Thank you to everyone who participated in the April 2016 Wild Pollinator Count! Just over 200 observations were submitted from 86 locations, all the way from Buckleboo in South Australia to Cairns in North Queensland.
Participants counted almost 2000 insects during flower observations. Some people included insects that flew past the flower without landing, but we haven’t included those numbers here. We also haven’t included ants, as these are often more likely robbing nectar rather than pollinating. European honey bees were the most abundant pollinator insects, followed by our native bees, butterflies and moths. And don’t forget the flies and wasps!
|Wild pollinator||Number counted|
|European honey bee||957|
|Blue banded bee (native)||113|
|Other native bee||283|
|Butterflies & moths||224|
If you counted at the same location in the spring 2015 count, did you notice different proportions of the pollinators found on your flowers? During the spring count, 45% of the total number of bees counted were native bees, with honey bees making up the remaining 55%. This count, only 29 % of all the bees counted were native bees, while the remaining 71 % were honey bees.
This isn’t surprising, as many of our counts were logged from urban areas, where honey bees are plentiful. Many native bee populations have also passed their peak by this time of year, especially in the southern states. But we should see more of them by the time the November count rolls around!
At least 90 different plants were observed this count. More exotic plants (54) were watched than natives (36). The most popular plants to watch pollinators on were salvias, followed by various basil varieties, grevilleas, banksias and eucalypts.
In southern Australia, we all get excited about the spring and summer wildflower booms, so it can be easy to forget that wild pollinators still need to find food right up until late autumn. This is why we run the count twice a year, so our regular participants have the opportunity to notice seasonal patterns in their local environment. There are still plenty of autumn flowers to be found in urban areas (e.g. basil, salvia, roses), as well as in native vegetation reserves in some regions (e.g. some Grevillea, Correa, Eucalyptus, Corymbia and Acacia).
This count, we also received quite a few ‘null’ observations, which is great! Zero values are really important for ecological datasets, so not seeing any insects still counts as an observation. The null observations were from a variety of plants, many of them normally very popular with pollinators, like Salvia, Dianella, pigface, buddleia and Acacia. Some participants noted various environmental factors associated with these observations, for example, the plant was in the shade, or a shower of rain had just passed. These types of factors would influence how many insects you would see, as most pollinators are sensitive to cool, wet conditions.
You can view some of the beautiful photos snapped during the April count by participants on our Flickr page.
We’ll keep posting updates and blog posts here, and you can also keep an eye on the #ozpollinators Twitter feed throughout the year.
The next count is 13-20 November 2016. Happy wild pollinator spotting!