I spent a few hours designing a beautiful page for a project that would allow visitors to the site to submit images of bees and other flying insects with location and time data so we could help build up a view of the bee population in the country. We even had a cute name (The Great British Beee Count) and some branding ripped off inspired by the TV show.
With any project, you have to think about what you’re trying to achieve and whether someone else can – or is – doing the job better than you, especially when the goal is engagement. In this case, there are better options, so instead of making a page (which would have been cool and would have given us the opportunity to show of some great user-generated content mapping), we’ll try to connect people with projects that are already doing this work.
Friends of the Earth had a similar commitment to being inspired by GBBO with their Great British Bee Count. Last year they had 300,000 participants, but these projects rely on volume, so go and swell their numbers. They also have a nice looking Android and iOS app available to make contributing easier, though it hasn’t been updated for 2018 yet. The official counting period for this is around May-July, so chances are the app will get a refresh for this year.
The Bumblebee Conservation Trust has its iRecord project which provides simple forms for participants to note the location of a sighting and add a photo. They also have a BeeWatch page, which allows you to upload a photo of a bee and have it examined by an expert who can tell you what kind of beast it is.
The Solitary Bee Project had a successful count in 2017, with 400 nest sites mapped and photographed. The project promises to return this year, and is already active on Twitter. As you’re likely to encounter solitary bees all over the place, this seems like a great project to get behind.
There are a couple of projects which aim to build on people irrational fear of wasps, and these involve setting traps to kill wasps in order to send specimens to the project leaders. People don’t like wasps, but they can be a vital part of a garden’s pest control system. Even hornets have a role to play.
Now is the time that more counting projects are likely to be launched. Rather than adding another, we’ll be linking to all those that seem to have a good scientific basis, and which don’t involve killing the animals they’re supposed to count. Maybe there will be some way to aggregate the information after beee season has passed.
With the demise of our Beee Count idea, we’re looking for other projects to showcase our site-building skills. It might be about beaches in Wales…