GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Citizen scientists around the world are busy as bees for a University of Florida study.
A global movement called “citizen science” is gaining traction, as scientists give lay people protocols so they can collect valid data.
In this case, participants build and monitor artificial nesting habitats suitable for solitary bees and wasps. Many bees and wasps live in social colonies. Solitary ones keep to themselves and nest in tunnels.
Among methods used to build homes for the bees and wasps, participants drilled holes in wood, rock, cement or clay while others provided bamboo stems or other hollow tubes.
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers used social media and websites to enroll and train citizen scientists for the project. Between April 2012 and July 2014, 655 people from 30 Florida counties, 39 states and 11 countries, including the U.S., Canada, Spain and Switzerland, registered for the Native Buzz project at www.ufnativebuzz.com to participate in the project.
During the first two years of the study, residents built 10,657 potential nests from various materials. Participants monitored their nest sites weekly to see if bees and wasps established nests in the available materials.
Results showed citizen scientists can build and monitor artificial nesting habitats for bees and wasps, a process that helps entomologists collect bee and wasp nesting data from a large geographic range.