Written by Andrea Dexter, Bee.Watch
Around 80% of UK adults have a smart phone and many children also have their own. This provides enormous potential for citizen science and data collection. It also provides the opportunity for huge public involvement and engagement in the state of our nature. Many initiatives are being developed to harness this recording power and enthusiasm and they seem to make a positive difference to the way the public and others feel.
Bee.Watch apps seek to achieve a robustness of data with easy to use recording. The original Bee.Watch app, as the name suggests, was born out of a desire to understand the possible cause(s) of catastrophic losses of honeybee colonies locally in South Oxfordshire.
Beekeeper and non-beekeper apps
The Beekeeper + app is a comprehensive hive management tool enabling beekeepers to accurately, quickly and easily record information on their phones about activity in their hives, including relevant photos. The Non-beekeeper app is a pesticide management app for professional pesticide users to investigate toxicity, record usage and notify others, including beekeepers, of intended pesticide use.
The unique difference is that the two apps work collaboratively to build an understanding about how pesticide use may be impacting honeybee health and therefore also an insight into its impact on pollinators and insects more widely. Bee.Watch apps are being used by beekeepers, farmers, golf courses and pest control companies and are providing useful data.
Toxicity information is derived from collaboration with the University of Hertfordshire. The app presents their comprehensive Pesticide Properties database, through a simple traffic light system to show likely risk to flora and fauna. This facilitates an expanding understanding about how chemicals interact in the environment and helps users identify less hazardous options. It provides information for beekeepers on imminent treatments so they can take appropriate mitigating action and enables farmers to fulfil their Red Tractor obligations for notifications. This pesticide use information is a key conservation tool.
The Bystander app; an offshoot of the Bee.Watch system, enables reporting of any species of interest to any conservation organisation with a GPS, time stamped photograph to confirm sightings. Mapping of records within the app is then translated to the user’s dedicated map to provide a picture of species distribution.
To get involved and report your pesticide treatments with the non-beekeeper app, or if you are a beekeeper interested in receiving pesticide alerts as part of a comprehensive hive records tool, or even a member of the public who would like to collect environmental observations with pesticide alerts please go to Bee.Watch. All data is stored remotely on a secure server, so it doesn’t back up on your phone.
The Bee Watch team is working with the NBN Atlas team to discuss how data from the Bee.Watch apps can eventually be shared through the NBN Atlas, so watch this space as the project progresses further.