Pollenize CIC: accelerating our research into urban pollinators

Who are Pollenize?

Pollenize Community Interest Company (CIC) is a pollinator conservation project utilising the power of community beekeeping, product design, citizen science, IoT sensors, big data and environmental DNA techniques to combat pollinator decline. Based in Plymouth, Pollenize looks to tackle the challenges raised from recent studies from around the globe indicating a decline in pollinator and insect abundance, diversity, distribution and biomass. These species provide vital goods and services for wildlife, food production and human health and their decline threatens important natural processes.

  • Pollenize Rewilding Citizen Science Programme. Rewilding seed packets are distributed to individuals, schools and other groups to sow the seeds and help increase wild flower biodiversity locally. This generates data to support a plant-pollinator interactions database for the construction of potential networks (all known pollinator-plant interactions on mainland GB) and it supports the Database of Insects and their Food Plants [DBIF] (over 60,000 insect-plant interactions with native plants).
  • Plymouth Native Honey Bee Reintroduction Apiary Network is where Pollenize works closely with The B4 Project to create a network of community backed research apiaries (beehives) stocked with European Dark Honey Bees. This is to extend and conserve the populations of our threatened native dark honey bee. 
  • Colony health and pollen analysis is where Pollenize monitors bee colony health with in-hive sensors that perform DNA testing of honey and pollen to help understand the forage availability surrounding the apiary. Floral gaps identified can be addressed through scientifically-informed seed packet recipes to improve the future resilience of all pollinators and their habitats. 


SWCTN Development Grant

Through recent work with the University of Plymouth’s Environmental Futures and Big Data Impact Lab Pollenize connected with The Bridge and learnt about the support available through SWTCN. Successfully winning a SWCTN Development Grant Pollenize are helping to accelerate research into urban pollinators by creating an off grid solar and battery powered apiary remote sensing module consisting of hives scales, webcam capable of 4G/wifi channel bonded IRT broadcasting from a Raspberry Pi platform. Data is showcased in a website widget for the remote viewing of the bees for managements and public awareness of honey bees. This funding is helping Pollenize to develop a research infrastructure network that harnesses the sensors, image recognition machine learning and molecular techniques to further understand the foraging behaviour honey bees as biosensors to understand the health of the environment from an end user perspective. 

The research of plant-pollinator interaction databases with the Impact Lab has shown that a colony of bees visit 1-4 million flowers with 159 species of plant in the UK. Big data tools could provide Pollenize with the insight to highlight gaps in floral diversity with the foraging area of the bees.

This information will further inform Pollenize’s rewilding citizen science seed packets to plug these gaps thereby going full circle and create more resilient habitats for pollinators.