Hello from the BiTC Team!
We can't believe it's already half way through this year and almost a year and a half since the idea for our BiTC project came to life. The past 15months or so have been unexpected to say the least, which meant our plans for this project had to slow down as well. However, we are just as passionate as ever to learn about the solitary bees of London!
Since we were not able to do any field or lab work the past year, we have not been able to ahieve our plans for the project to set up bee hotels and study any samples collected in the lab. We did however, keep our enthusiasm going by recording local bees found in our gardens and local neighborhoods during our 1 hour of outdoor excercise during lockdown. Check out our "Gallery" page on the website to take a look at the various species we've seen this past year! You can also join our Slack group to share your bee photos and ask any questions to get involved.
With restrictions starting to ease the past few months, we have been able to make some progress by 3D printing prototypes of bee hotels that were designed thanks to engineer Ismail Kale. The first hotel was installed at a local church yard in East London as our first trial to see if bees like plastic-made hotels!
After a few days of being installed, we had success with an Osmia caerulescens (blue mason bee) female visiting our 3D printed bee hotel for the first time! Hurray!
Now that we know that our current design and the material used to print these hotels are being used by our local bees, we are planning to install more of them throughout London to obtain samples and data before the season ends this year.
However, there is still a lot for us to do. We are planning to analyze some samples in our labs at the University of Westminster as soon as possible to correctly identify the species of any bees we collect and look for viruses or parasites that might be found on them. This will help us understand if there are any microorganisms that might be affecting the diversity of our local bees, and whether this is linked to human activity which will help us try to protect our bees moving forward.
Keep up-to-date on our progress by joining our Slack group, and make sure to share photos of bees that you find in your local area! Happy snapping!