Creating a buzz for pollinators

By Annie Robinson

X-Polli:Nation is an actionable citizen science project that cross pollinates ideas, methods and technologies for pollinator citizen science. X-Polli:Nation aims to create a ‘buzz’ for pollinators by supporting:

 ‘people’ to learn and protect them,

‘practice’ to improve citizen science tools and of course,

‘pollinators’ by creating more habitat and supporting campaigns for their protection. 

Whether you are gardener, teacher, online recorder, or someone new to the field, we welcome everyone to get involved.  Our online tools and downloadable resources provide a programme of activities to support learning, recording, planting, and communicating the importance of pollinators. There are also complementary worksheets and teacher guides and we have a teacher training workshop on the 26th May.  This short video gives an overview of the project. Please do explore our website or join the conversation online (@XpolliProject #xpolli) to find out more about the wonderful world of pollinators. 

We are currently working across the UK and Italy. To give you a taste of the activities, our new citizen science survey is based on the Pollinator Monitoring Scheme (PoMS) FitCount methodology and combined with our new AI species identification tool for bumblebees, collects valuable data on pollinators and their foodplants. Citizen science data feeds into our Planting for Pollinators tool to provide species-specific planting advice for certain species of bumblebee. Our Pollinator Promise campaign can be used to encourage your local community to protect pollinators.  Whether you have 5 minutes or 5 hours to delve into the world of pollinator citizen science, want to be desk based or out in nature, we have a full programme of activities around the citizen science cycle below:

Learning about Pollinators 

XPolli:Nation has lots of resources for learning (& teaching) all about pollinators. 

Bumblebee and Butterfly Training tool

You can discover how to identify pollinator species through our interactive bumblebee and butterfly training tools. You will see a series of photos that you can practise identifying to species level using our interactive feature keys, with help from artificial intelligence technologies, including automated image recognition and automatically generated feedback on your attempts. There are varying difficulty levels so its suits whatever level you are at. It’s great fun testing your identification skills. 

Pollinator Open Learn Create course

Or if you are just after a course giving an overview of what pollinators are, why they are important, why they are under threat and what we can do to help we have created an Open University course that is free and accessible to all. 

Recording Pollinators

We would be delighted if you take part in a citizen science survey and contribute valuable new data about vital insect populations and their habitats.

There are two steps:

Citizen Science Survey: We have teamed up with the Pollinator Monitoring Scheme (PoMS) – which provides data for UK Biodiversity Indicators – to create a survey where you can count the number of insects in different groups (e.g. bumblebees, beetles, butterflies etc.) visiting a patch of target flowers for 10 minutes.

Photo-Record Submission: While taking part in the survey or at any time, you can take photos of bumblebees and submit to our dedicated recording scheme Planting for Pollinators, where you will be guided by technology to help identify the species (e.g. Red Tailed or Buff-Tailed Bumblebee etc.).

Planting for Pollinators

Ever wondered what you can do in your own garden or local green spaces to help pollinators? Explore which plants support different species of pollinators throughout the season using our Planting for Pollinators tool. 

Communicating the Importance of Pollinators

I imagine lots of you do this already but inspiring your friends, family and others in your community to protect pollinators can make a real difference. 

There are two parts to the Communicate activities: 

1. Making a Pollinator Promise: When you sign up to the Pollinator Promise, you pledge to plant a pot or put aside a 1 x 1 metre area in your garden, school grounds or business to grow pollinator-friendly plants. The Pollinator Promise was started by pupils at St. Alban’s Primary Church of England Primary School. They asked their parents, friends, local businesses and community groups to sign up.  You can watch a video here

2046 Polli-promises have been made so far to create 4820 square metres of pollinator-friendly habitat. The pupils at St Alban’s hope to spread the Pollinator Promise campaign throughout the UK, and they are counting on your help. Wouldn’t it be brilliant if we could get more dots on the map in Scotland!  Sign up here

2. Designing your own Campaign for Pollinators: We also encourage you to come up with your own creative ideas about how you can spread the message to protect pollinators and share these on our social media account (@XpolliProject #xpolli #pollipromise)

Please do explore our website or join the conversation online (@XpolliProject #xpolli) to find out more about the wonderful world of pollinators.  If you are a teacher join us at the teacher training event on the 26th May