Developing your survey skills during lockdown

How did you get on with the research we talk about in Blog 1 and any of the practical activities we talk about in Blog 2?  Please do let us know.

You can work in nature conservation whatever you’re interested in studying.  All employers need a diverse range of skills.  From leadership to project management to public engagement (communication) to volunteer management to finances to human resources to photography to media liaison to teaching and learning … and more – whatever you want to do, gain at least some experience of nature (a species or a habitat) and tell that story at application and interview stages.

Bumble bees are great for practicing surveys as there are different species and getting your ‘eye in’ takes time and practice.  Red bottoms vs white bottoms is the first distinguishing feature to try and spot. A quick search online will produce identification resources to help.  If this is your first time, practice by just focusing on recording two different species. All this will enhance your reflectiveness (planning the survey), resourcefulness (making good use of resources), resilience (noticing skills) and reciprocity (self-reliance).  We’ll explore more about the importance of these 4Rs in a future blog.

If you want to take bumble bee surveys to another level, then conducing a line transect survey of the bees (which can be distance – e.g. 1km – or time bound, e.g. 30mins) at different times of day is a great way to start. Count the number of the 2 species you see over that distance or time.  Then you can really go for it, and plot a graph with the number of bees you saw on the Y (vertical) axis against the distance or time on the X (horizontal) axis.  Different graphs for different time of day, or combine them (we’re on a roll now..).   Clive from Ambios did this kind of survey in his garden at different times of day a few years ago and came up with some fascinating results. He was actually recovering from an operation at the time and was on a kind of lockdown!  He started to uncover a story that would subsequently appear in the science literature about how our native bumble bees may be trying to feed after the time that honey bees have fed on nectar, leaving less for the bumbles….

Whatever you decided to do, bumble bees are amazing to watch, and if you can notice their flight paths you’ll being to understand a little of how they are using the open space.

Good luck and do let us know your results.