Coventry scientists start a buzz around bumblebees

An image of the CAWR building
University news

Thursday 16 June 2016

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A new citizen science project from Coventry University has got gardeners and wildlife lovers buzzing.

To celebrate the start of the Blooms for Bees project on 20th June, aimed at promoting and improving gardening for bumblebees, Coventry University is hosting a week of free, bee-themed events, talks and tours.

The project is led by Coventry University’s Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR), in partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Garden Organic and has been made possible by funding from The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Coventry University.

The week of events start on Monday 20th June, when Warwickshire bee expert Steven Falk will be giving a talk, with a question and answer session, at the James Starley Building, Priory Street between 1pm and 2pm and will lead a bee walk around the campus’ edible garden near The Hub between 3pm and 4pm. The sessions are free and open to all, though booking is required. Details of all events can be found at

The project’s specially designed app and new website will officially launch at a free weekend-long Gardening for Bees Festival at Ryton Organic Gardens in Warwickshire, on the 30th-31st July.

Members of the public from across the UK will be encouraged to get involved in the two year project, by taking and sharing photographs of bumblebees on flowers in their gardens and allotments, using the project’s app or website.

Participants will not only discover which bumblebees are visiting their blooms, but will also be contributing a wealth of information about these important pollinating insects and their favourite flowers.

The free app will be available on iOS and Android and will feature a bumblebee identification guide, with illustrations, photographs and descriptions of the 25 beautiful species of bumblebees currently buzzing around the UK.

Gemma Foster, researcher and project lead at CAWR, explained; 

Bumblebee populations have declined in recent years, but gardens and allotments offer us an amazing opportunity to create vibrant flower-rich habitats to support these vital pollinators. The Blooms for Bees project will offer members of the public an opportunity to discover more about these fascinating creatures, improve our understanding of bumblebee floral preferences and gather evidence to contribute to improved garden management for bumblebee conservation.”

  RHS senior horticultural advisor, Helen Bostock, was delighted the project had received Heritage Lottery funding to get started. She said:

The project gives us a rare chance to ‘see’ into hundreds of gardens across the UK and find out just which plants bumblebees love to visit. We hope participants will also discover the joy of recognising different bumblebees and realise the important role plant choice can have in supporting this group of pollinators.”

The information gathered from the thousands of ‘citizen scientists’, who it is hoped will take part, will be analysed and used to improve recommendations for garden management for bumblebees.

Members of the public can register for the free festival lectures and workshops, and the bumblebee identification workshops at Garden Organic and RHS gardens across the UK by visiting the project website or calling 07557 425269 or emailing

 3 people walking in a field with wild flowers holding plants in pots

For further information, please contact Jeanette Lunt, external press and media relations officer, Coventry University, on +44 (0)24 7765 5050 or email

Further information and images for Blooms for Bees can be found at:

 For information about the partners in Blooms for Bees, please see: Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience; Bumblebee Conservation Trust; Royal Horticultural Society; and Garden Organic

About the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF): Thanks to National Lottery players, the HLF invests money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under their feet to the historic parks and buildings they love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. @heritagelottery @HLFWestMids