Credit: Abi Finnie
Credit: Abi Finnie
Pollenize is a community interest company (CIC) with a mission to combat pollinator decline. By enlisting help from local communities, schools, businesses and expertise at the University, the social enterprise has taken big steps in helping to restore the city's pollinator population.
With the support of crowdfunding, Pollenize created a network of community backed research apiaries (beehives) around the city and stocked them with the threatened native dark honeybee. However, ensuring the health of the bees, and a local environment for them to thrive, required more specialist support. 
Pollenize met with the Environmental Futures and Big Data Impact Lab (funded by the European Regional Development Fund) to see how expertise at the University could help. Initially, Pollenize sought support for placing environmental sensors in apiaries to monitor bee health. Dr Lauranne Fauvet worked with Pollenize to determine the best remote sensor equipment and once installed assisted with the interpretation and presentation of data. This helped to both inform beekeeping practices and to provide data visualisation for the wider public to engage with via the Pollenize website.

“Connecting with the University of Plymouth has led us to several avenues of assistance: from drawing on the technical skills and big data of the Impact Lab to developing a relationship that has opened up further opportunities for Pollenize to benefit.”

Matthew Elmes – Co-Director, Pollenize CIC
Citizen scientists are encouraged to annotate the location of their seed sowing on a live data map. Created by Luke Christison and Chris Booth from the Impact Lab, the custom mapping tool provides Pollenize an easy and effective method of data collection. 
The interactive data layers include hive locations, seed shops and citizen data collection, bringing together a clear visualisation of all Pollenize activities.
In addition to the technical support provided by the Impact Lab, Project Manager Sarah Fear, has facilitated further opportunities for the CIC including; a secondary grant from the South West Creative Technology Network (SWCTN) for pollen collecting equipment, access to the Plymouth Electron Microscopy Centre at the University for scanning images of the native dark honeybee, and a collaborative project with 2nd year BA (Hons) Photography students. 

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 can help identify gaps in floral diversity and inform rewilding citizen science seed packets to create more resilient habitats for pollinators. 

Dom Moore photo. 2 bee keepers. Sphere February 2021