Biology Education

Department of Biology | Lund University

Building for bees – Using bee hotels and citizen science to learn more about wild bees

In this project, you will use citizen science data gathered by Naturskyddsföreningen to answer questions about cavity-nesting solitary bees using bee-hotels. For example, which types of environments do these bees use most, how important are gardens in urban areas, compared to rural sites, and does the amount of flowers in the garden affect the number of nesting bees?

Background

Pollinating insects, such as wild bees, are declining worldwide, which may reduce pollination of both wild plants and crops. The main reasons for the declines are losses of habitat and flowering food resources, but a lack of nesting habitats may also limit populations. In recent years, urban areas have been proposed to offer refuges for pollinators, at least in comparison to farmland landscapes, and residential gardens may be particularly good habitat.

The amount of flowers in gardens can be increased by turning lawns into flowering meadows, or choosing to plant nectar and pollen-rich plants in flowerbeds and the amount of nest sites for cavity-nesting solitary bees could be through so-called bee hotels (for example drilled holes in wood or bunches of hollow bamboo sticks). However, the benefit of bee hotels has been questioned. In 2018, the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (Naturskyddsföreningen) started a campaign to increase the awareness of the decline of wild bees. One part of the campaign is to urge people to increase the amount of flowers and put bee hotels in their gardens. They are also asked to report the occupancy in the hotels at the end of the season, along with information on environmental data such as the amount of flowers in the surrounding. In 2019, 10.000 people participated and ca 2000 reported data back to us.

Depending on the length and timing of the project, you can use only existing data (2018 and 2019) or gather your own data from 2020 together with Naturskyddsföreningen, and make a literature review of bee hotels as a method to benefit bees by compiling results from published papers. Because this is a citizen science project, it is important to communicate the results back to the participants.

Methods and skills needed

Compiling scientific literature on bee hotels, designing questionnaire for citizen science, statistical analyses of gathered data. You need to be able to use statistical software (R or SPSS) and understand written Swedish to work with the questionnaires.

Project start and length

Spring or autumn 2020, MSc project (30 to 60 credits).

Contact

Anna Persson, Centre for Environment and Climate research (CEC), Email: anna.persson@cec.lu.se

January 31, 2020

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