Volunteers get busy counting East End’s bumble bee population

Busy bee pollinating plants in the East End

Busy bee pollinating plants in the East End - Credit: QM Uni

Biodiversity experts are buzzing round looking for volunteers to count bees in London’s East End now spring is here.

The annual survey to monitor whether there is enough habitat for ther humble Bumble, like nectar-rich flowers and places to nest, starts as soon as the weather has warmed up enough for bees to be on the wing.

“Bees are very important pollinators of food crops,” Tower Hamlets bio-diversity officer John Archer explains. “But they are in decline due to loss of habitat and more pesticides and disease.”

Volunteers are being asked to count bees for 15 minutes, at least once a month in their garden, nearby park or anywhere with flowers and record the results online or by post.

The survey was launched by Tower Hamlets Council and Poplar Harca Housing last spring, when 11 volunteers made 68 counts at 15 sites. A total of 904 bees and 15 species were recorded. These included 544 honeybees, 329 bumblebees and 31 solitary bees. Highest count in a single site visit was 94 bees at Grove Hall Park in Bow on July 8.

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Volunteers are being asked to email john.archer@towerhamlets.gov.uk to receive a free bee identification chart.

Humble bumblebees have also been used by researchers in the past in the East End to help track down serial killers.

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Scientists at Queen Mary University’s Mile End campus studied bees under lab conditions in 2008 to work out what makes them tick and disguise where they nest—just like killers on the run.

They used ‘geographic profiling’ based on how busy bees go about their business, to try and predict where criminal perpetrators are most likely to live.

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