A surge in volunteer participation has bolstered the UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme (PoMS) over the past year. 

The scheme’s annual report, published during Volunteers’ Week, shows that in 2023, a total of 4,340 ‘Flower-Insect Timed Counts’ (FIT Counts) were submitted by dedicated nature lovers, surpassing the previous year’s total of 3,730. 

Each FIT Count involves 10 minutes of careful observation, during which volunteers document every insect landing on a patch of flowers. These efforts play an important role in gathering data on the abundance of pollinating insects.

PoMS also expanded its systematic 1 km survey, which now encompasses 92 sites surveyed by trained volunteers across the UK – up from 72 sites in its inaugural year, 2017. Remarkably, these surveys have identified more than 260 species of bees and hoverflies, representing nearly half of the known species within these insect groups in the UK.

Growing evidence base

PoMS is run by a partnership of conservation and research organisations, coordinated by the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH), which jointly funds the scheme along with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC).

Dr Claire Carvell, an ecologist at UKCEH and PoMS lead, emphasises the importance of this collaborative effort: “Thanks to the combined contributions of volunteers, expert taxonomists, and the PoMS partnership, we are establishing a critical baseline for studying the abundance and species richness of pollinating insects through time across the UK.

“Insect populations can fluctuate significantly between years, due to factors such as the weather. This makes it challenging to detect meaningful trends from the current PoMS time series. However, with ongoing support from our enthusiastic volunteers, the growing PoMS dataset will strengthen the evidence base needed to understand how, where, and why pollinator populations are changing in response to environmental shifts.”

Key highlights from the seven seasons of PoMS monitoring include:

  • 16,470 FIT Counts, totalling an impressive 2,745 hours of insect observation.
  • 179,100 insect visits to flowers logged across the UK.
  • 1,420 days of PoMS survey visits to 1 km squares.
  • 2,580 dedicated volunteers contributing valuable data.

About the surveys

The PoMS 1 km square survey systematically examines pollinators and floral resources across up to 95 sites nationwide. Using water-filled pan traps, this survey generates species-level data for bees and hoverflies, providing new records of species distribution. Additionally, it helps detect changes in the abundance of other essential pollinator groups, such as flies and wasps. 

FIT Counts involve participants spending ten minutes observing insects that visit a specific patch of flowers within a 50 cm quadrat, and classifying the insects into different groups, including bumblebees, solitary bees, hoverflies, other flies and beetles. Volunteers also collect Information on flower abundance, surrounding habitats, and weather conditions.

These counts can be conducted anywhere, including gardens and parks, during warm, dry weather from 1 April to 30 September, and submitted via the PoMS website or FIT Count app.


JNCC funding comes from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Scottish Government, Welsh Government and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs for Northern Ireland (DAERA). The UKCEH contribution is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council as part of the UK-SCAPE programme.

Other partners are: Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, British Trust for Ornithology, Buglife, Hymettus, Natural History Museum, University of Reading, University of Leeds and DAERA.

PoMS is indebted to the many volunteers who carry out surveys and contribute data to the scheme, as well as those who allow access to their land.

Over the years, PoMS has fostered connections with many individuals and organisations, promoting pollinator monitoring through workshops and events. The team continues to develop analytical approaches and annual metrics, aiming to contribute to official biodiversity indicators that inform conservation action and track nature recovery.

The annual report is available via ukpoms.org.uk/reports Dr Carvell discusses its findings, and how citizen science is enhancing what we know about pollinators, in a new episode of UKCEH’s podcast series Counting the Earth.

The episode What’s the buzz: 1500, referring to the estimated number of pollinator species in the UK, also looks at which plants attract the most insects and explores the gardens of RHS Wisley. It has been published on Audioboom.

Help us monitor pollinators

The PoMS website includes all the information needed to get involved in either a FIT Count or a 1 km survey, and has online data entry forms and live updates of the data coming in. The FIT Count app can be downloaded for Android or Apple phones. You can also subscribe to the PoMS newsletter.

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Media enquiries

For interviews and further information, please contact Simon Williams, Media Relations Officer at UKCEH, via simwil@ceh.ac.uk or +44 (0)7920 295384.

About the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

The UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology is a world-leading centre for excellence in environmental sciences across water, land and air. We identify key drivers of biodiversity change, develop tools and technologies for monitoring biodiversity, and provide robust socio-economic and environmental solutions for restoring biodiversity.
The UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology is a strategic delivery partner for the Natural Environment Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation.

www.ceh.ac.uk / @UK_CEH / LinkedIn: UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology