Buff tailed bumblebee on French marigolds

What happens to the data from the Great British Bee Count?

By recording bees with our mobile app this summer, you can contribute to the government's Pollinator Monitoring Scheme – and help experts understand how pollinators are doing.
15 May 2018     |       5 minute read

We'll get a clearer picture of the health of bees right across the UK, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

Common carder bee (Bombus pascuorum)
Common carder bee (Bombus pascuorum)
Credit: Neil James Brain/Great British Bee Count 2016

What do we do with your bee sightings?

When you send in your bee sightings, the first thing we do is check them. We look at your photos to ensure that each bee has been identified as the correct species. This year the Great British Bee Count team have been joined by a National Verifier of bee records.

An early bumblebee
Early bumblebee (Bombus pratorum)
Credit: Tony Putman / Great British Bee Count 2016

Where do my bee recordings go?

After verifying the records we submit them to the National Biodiversity Network Atlas (NBN). The NBN is an online library that catalogues UK species records. Your sightings will sit permanently alongside other bee records from across the country. They'll provide information on the state of bee species across our islands and they'll be freely accessible to all, including:

  • ecologists; 
  • academic researchers; 
  • environmental decision-makers; 
  • members of the public.
Blue Mason Bee on a hand
Blue mason bee (Osmia caerulescens)
Credit: Michelle Butler / Great British Bee Count 2016

How does spotting bees help?

The Great British Bee Count (GBBC) helps experts see how our wild bees are faring – and may help future studies into how factors like climate change and habitat loss are affecting their numbers. 

Your sightings will feed into the government’s Pollinator Monitoring Scheme (launched in 2017). With the help of volunteers, the scheme will provide the first comprehensive health check for Britain’s wild bees and other pollinators.

The Pollinator Monitoring and Research Partnership co-ordinates the Pollinator Monitoring Scheme . It will analyse GBBC records alongside other bee data collected over time.

Photographic records of bees generated through the GBBC, that have passed through a rigorous system of expert verification, will make an important contribution to analyses of bee species trends.

Dr Claire Carvell, Co-ordinator of the UK Pollinator Monitoring and Research Partnership & Lead Ecologist at  Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

We'll also be sending your handy work to our Great British Bee Count partner Buglife. Your bee records will inform its quest to restore pollinators to cities through Urban Buzz projects – and its B-Lines work to create a network of pollinator-friendly wildflower corridors across the UK.

Past records are scattered, often focussed on nature reserves or rare species hotspots. That's why we're relying on your bee-spotting prowess. The bees you spot in your garden or local park will help broaden our knowledge of where they live.

Buffish mining bee
Buffish mining bee (Andrena nigroaenea)
Credit: Alison Woodward / Great British Bee Count 2016

Watch out for rare bee species

This year we have added the Small scissor bee Chelostoma campanularum to the app. This species collects pollen from garden campanulas, but recorded sightings are lacking. You know what to do. Download that phone app now.

We also have 2 rarer species on the app: 

  • The Long-horned bee, Eucera longicornis.
  • The Shrill carder bee, Bombus sylvarum.

Your records of these will be especially useful to conservationists. Who knows, you might discover a new rare-bee outpost. Any sightings of the shrill carder bee will help the Back from the Brink recovery project for this species, led by Buglife and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. These bees can turn up in surprising places like derelict or brownfield sites.

Female long-horned bee on the narrow-leaved everlasting-pea
Female long-horned bee, Eucera longicornis
Credit: Ivar Leidus

Monitoring is essential to reverse bee decline

In 2014 we persuaded the government to launch an action plan for our bees, which emerged as the National Pollinator Strategy [PDF].  Friends of the Earth led a coalition of organisations with the support of thousands of people like you. This strategy recommended an official monitoring scheme for bees and other pollinators.

In the same year, Friends of the Earth launched the Great British Bee Count to demonstrate the public’s enthusiasm for increasing our understanding of these special insects. Our initiative has become a valuable contribution to raising awareness about the need for monitoring, and inspiring people to take simple actions to help bees.

The Great British Bee Count team

Many busy bees have been hard at work to help Friends of the Earth's team bring you this year's Great British Bee Count.

A special thank you goes to our sponsor Ecotalk  – and supporting partner Buglife – as well as our scientific advisor Rory Dimond.

The app was created by Two Thirds Water , with stunning bee illustrations from wildlife artist Chris Shields , and beautiful photographs for the app kindly donated by Steven Falk.

Lastly, thank you to the supporters, organisations and businesses that have helped spread the word, to enthuse even more nature-lovers to take action for bees.