“More than 27,000 bumblebees were counted which was just staggering. More than 400 schools took part, engaging up to 30,000 individuals; it’s amazing.”
- Dr Helen Roy

During the summer of 2014, the British Science Association in our award winning partnership with EDF Energy, ran the Big Bumblebee Discovery; a national citizen science experiment that engaged up to 30,000 individuals.

The Big Bumblebee Discovery (BBD) was led by the research of ecologists, Dr Helen Roy and Dr Michael Pocock, at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH). The experiment aimed to address the question “how the diversity and abundance of bumblebees influenced by the surrounding landscape at multiple scales?”

The experiment enabled families, individuals and over 400 schools to contribute a data set of over 27,000 bumblebee observations to a real scientific study. The citizen scientists were asked to observe a lavender plant for bumblebee sightings and upload their findings to EDF Energy’s education portal, The Pod. The data will be used to explore how environmental changes affect insect populations; an area of research that could has a potential huge impact on understanding the future of food security and climate change. The findings, such as the unexpected result that there was a higher rate of observations of bumblebees in urban locations compared suburban and rural locations, are planned to be published in a peer-review paper later this year.

The BBD was featured in print media across the UK and was also featured on Channel 4 News and CBBC Newsround.

The Big Bumblebee Discovery helped deliver a real-world insight into the work of environmental scientists, breaking down the perception that science is only relevant to men in white coats within a laboratory.

Third Sector Business Charity Awards 2015

The Big Bumblebee Discovery won the Third Sector Business Charity Award for Charity Partnership (short-term) at the annual Business Charity Awards Ceremony held in London. The judges praised the project for engaging such a large number of young people in science, adding that it was the result of an 'outstanding partnership between a company and a charity that has lasted up to a year and a half'.

Rob Cope, director of Remember A Charity and a member of the judging panel at the Business Charity Awards 2015, said: "The initiative helped to inspire the next generation of budding scientists, engaging a truly impressive number of schoolchildren."