The Citizen Science project "PolliDiversity" addresses the question "Which pollinators, especially wild bees and honey bees, prefer the four selected plant species - meadow clover (Trifolium pratense), cornflower (Cyanus segetum), corn poppy (Papaver rhoeas) and gold-of-pleasure (Camelina sativa) - as a food source in differently structured landscapes and what is the proportion of observed honey bees (Apis mellifera)?"
These four plant species were chosen because they have different flower shapes and belong to different families.
Meadow clover (Trifolium pratense) is a member of the Fabaceae family, has a spike-like inflorescence of many small flowers with fused corolla and sepals, and is one of the nectar-bearing flowering plants. The red and blue reflecting flowers - bees can only perceive the blue part - have a tube length of about 9 mm, so that the nectar is only accessible to long-trunked bumblebees, which also usually pollinate it. Honeybees can only collect pollen on meadow clover.
Cornflower (Cyanus segetum) belongs to the Astaraceae family and thus has a flower head consisting of many tubular flowers. The petals reflect blue throughout, with additional UV on the outside, creating a distinct edge-to-center contrast for UV-perceiving insects such as bees. With a corolla length of about 3mm, the nectar supply is also accessible to short-nosed bees and some flies, pollen to all flower visitors.
The corn poppy (Papaver rhoeas) belongs to the poppy family and was selected because it has an open red and UV-reflecting flower. The corn poppy has no nectar, but is very rich in pollen and is intensively visited by honeybees and bumblebees, especially in the morning.
Camelina sativa belongs to the family of Brassicaceae, is reflective in the yellow, red and UV range and has a rich supply of nectar and pollen, which is why it is readily visited by diverse pollinators (cf. Flügel, 2018).
Citizen Scientists receive seeds for about 4 m² area (in their own garden or on the balcony in pots) for sowing the four plant species: Meadow Clover (Trifolium pratense), Cornflower (Cyanus segetum), Corn Poppy (Papaver rhoeas) and gold-of-pleasure (Camelina sativa). Seeding should be done as early as the end of March 2021 (as soon as the first early bloomers are visible) in the best case, but no later than the end of April 2021.
To enable Citizen Scientists to determine and participate in the project, the following materials will be prepared and made available in digital form with the expert assistance of wild bee expert Dr. Johann Neumayer:
The materials are created in different subject depths and are didactically adapted to different age groups.
The task of the Citizen Scientists is to determine on several days from May to the end of July (depending on the flowering time of the plants) which plant species are preferably approached by certain pollinators as a food source.
Since the structures of the landscape in the surrounding area within a radius of up to 150 m are crucial for the occurrence of pollinators, participants should conduct a site analysis at the beginning of the monitoring. Instructions on how to conduct this will also be addressed during the workshop and in the experimental guide; a template will be provided. During the site analysis, particular attention should be paid to whether there are forest edges or (field) hedgerows with dead wood and whether there are scattered orchards, rough pastures, perennial-rich watercourse edges or other blooming areas. The presence of dry hollow plant stems, dead wood, vegetation-free soil patches, or insect hotels should also be documented.
Monitoring should be conducted on as many days as possible at three different times of day during daylight. Weather also plays a role, as many pollinators, like most other flower visitors, are more abundant in sunny weather, but rarely seen in rain or high winds. Therefore, weather data from the sites are evaluated concurrently.
The project materials are only available in German. Moreover, the project is listed in Austria for the Citizen Science Award 2021; within this award participants have the possibility to win prizes.