Our funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund has officially come to an end, and it’s been great to look back over the project’s many successes and achievements while writing our Evaluation Report.
During the two and a half year project, we were able to create a range of outputs including the Blooms for Bees app which was downloaded by over 6,700 people, this website which received 54,000 page views in 2018, seven YouTube videos which were watched over 7,000 times, and four interactive garden displays. We also engaged directly with over 3,000 members of the public across the UK at two Bee Festivals, eight full-day bumblebee workshops, five stalls, and seven talks.
The contribution that Blooms for Bees has made to raising awareness about bees was recognised by the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the project was awarded a ‘Bees’ Needs Champions Award’ in November 2017.
Blooms for Bees was able to deliver on all seven of the HLF outcomes it set out to accomplish:
Heritage will be identified and recorded
– Blooms for Bees generated a novel scientific dataset, consisting of 2,588 flowering plant surveys and 4,818 associated bumblebee records, from gardens across the British Isles.
– In 2017, we verified 72% of the bumblebee records to species level, creating a high-quality dataset and confirming records of 15 of the UK’s 25 bumblebee species, including several scarce species.
– Results were featured in the press, including high-profile publications such as Gardeners’ World Magazine and the book Wildlife Gardening for everyone and everything by Kate Bradbury.
– The findings have been developed into two journal papers, one of which was published in PLOS One in June 2019.
– Bumblebee records have been shared with the National Biodiversity Network, making the raw data available to all, including researchers, ecologists and policy makers, for the long-term.
Heritage will be better interpreted and explained
– Blooms for Bees resources were described as “helpful”, “amazing”, “informative’, “gorgeous”, “fantastic”, “excellent” and “inspiring” by those engaging with the project.
– One of the most popular outputs was the bumblebee identification guide, which was described as “my go to guide” and “great for bumblebee ID on the go”.
– Data analysis revealed where bumblebee misidentifications commonly occurred and enabled the formulation of recommendations to improve bumblebee identification resources.
Heritage will be better managed
– Blooms for Bees’ findings provided a scientific basis for, and strengthened, the bee-friendly planting recommendations promoted by our partners. Results have been used to inform decisions about updates to The RHS Plants for Pollinators (PfP) lists which are accessed by 60,000 people each year, and were incorporated in the BBCT’s Bee Kind Tool.
People will have learnt about heritage
– All Event Questionnaire respondents (100%) and the majority of Project Evaluation Questionnaire respondents (78%) agreed that Blooms for Bees helped them learn about UK bumblebee species.
– On social media, people said “I learnt so much”, and there was evidence that project participants also shared this information with other people.
People will have developed skills
– Participation in Blooms for Bees surveys helped people improve their bumblebee identification skills. Data analysis revealed that taking part in surveys improved the bumblebee identification accuracy of repeat recorders, increasing from 24% for their first identification, to 44% by the tenth submission.
– Expert verification and feedback in particular were reported to be very helpful for improving participants’ identification skills. App users said “[verification is] really helpful and has helped my id skills” and “I am even starting to get the identification correct after helpful feedback tips”.
People will have changed their attitudes and/or behaviour
– The majority of Project Evaluation Questionnaire respondents agreed that they felt empowered and able to support bumblebees as a result of Blooms for Bees (64%), and 71% confirmed that they had already taken action to support bumblebees in their gardens as a result of the project.
– The dahlia trial encouraged participants to consider the value of their planting schemes for bumblebees, and the majority of the Dahlia Trial Questionnaire respondents (74%) indicated that they planned to increase the amount of bee-friendly flowers they grow as a result of taking part in the trial.
People will have had an enjoyable experience
– Blooms for Bees events were regarded as enjoyable by 100% of Event Questionnaire respondents. Event feedback very positive, with people describing them as “awesome”, “incredible”, “wonderful”, “brilliant”, and “easily one of the very best events I have ever attended”.
– The Blooms for Bees project was regarded as enjoyable by 82% of Project Evaluation Questionnaire respondents. Twitter users commented that “we LOVE this project” and called the project “beautiful”.
– People enjoyed learning about bumblebees and taking part in surveys. Project Evaluation Questionnaire respondents told us that they enjoyed “all of it”, “watching the bees and improving my ID skills” and “knowing we were helping you to help the bumblebees… [my partner] said it was the best summer he has ever had”.
– The majority of Project Evaluation Questionnaire respondents indicated that they planned to continue to submit survey data (59%), and the vast majority indicated that they would be interested in further seed trials (82%).
Thank you to everyone who took part and made all this possible!
Full report citation: Foster, G. and Conroy, J. (2019) Blooms for Bees – Evaluation Report. Coventry: Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University. http://www.bloomsforbees.co.uk/bloomsforbees_evaluationreport_finaljuly2019/