Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Young citizen scientists reveal urban bee 'surprise'

9 September 2014 Last updated at 07:44

By Jonathan Webb
Science reporter, BBC News, Birmingham

A patch of lavender in a city centre sees more bumblebees than a patch in the country, according to preliminary results from a citizen science project.

Around 30,000 schoolchildren from 400 schools across the UK did the counts as part of the Big Bumblebee Discovery.

The first insights were announced at the British Science Festival.

Rather than generally higher bee numbers in cities, the results probably reflect a higher concentration of urban bees on more limited flowers.

High-density living
"Within cities, there are fewer floral resources," said Dr Michael Pocock from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, who led the analysis of the data with colleague Dr Helen Roy.

"And so one of the likely explanations is that there's a concentration effect - the bumblebees in the area are concentrated on floral resources which are provided through pots of lavender and beds of lavender."

That isn't necessarily bad news, Dr Roy added, because it suggests that planting more flowers in cities will help boost bumblebee numbers.

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