The next Wild Pollinator Count is on soon. What’s it all about?

Spring has well and truly arrived! Have you seen any of the new season’s wild pollinators in your local patch yet?


We’re only two months away from the next National Pollinator Count – it runs from 13-20 November 2016. If you’ve missed the first few and are wondering what this event is all about, here’s a brief recap:

What’s it all about? The national Wild Pollinator Count started in November 2014. We started the count to raise awareness about Australia’s thousands of wild insect pollinators…not just our gorgeous native bees, but all the flies, butterflies, wasps, moths, and beetles that are so often overlooked. (There are plenty of birds, mammals and reptiles that also pollinate, but we just focus on insects). Many of these insects aren’t just full-time pollinators – they are also important to ecosystems in other ways, for example by providing natural pest control services. The count runs biannually, in the second full week of April (autumn) & November (spring), every year. We hope that participants will join in regularly, as this will give them the opportunity to keep track of seasonal patterns of wild pollinators and flowers in their local area.

Is this a citizen science project? There are many different definitions of a citizen science project. We think any project that encourages non-scientists to engage with scientific methods on a regular basis is a citizen science project. Our count protocol is based on standard scientific methods that pollination ecologists around the world use to collect data on pollinator insects. Having a standard counting method, which can be conducted at multiple locations within a set period of time, enhances the quality of our data. Continue reading

Thank you for counting!

The autumn 2016 count is now over. Thanks to all who contributed observations!

The submission form will remain open until Sunday April 24 for you to submit your observations. From a quick glance through the observations we’ve received so far, residents from at least 5 states have participated. We’re looking forward to finding out what wild pollinators they’ve seen!

The next spring count will be on between 13-20 November 2016. In the meantime, you can still share any wild pollinator sightings and resources on social media using the #ozpollinators hashtag. We also have a Bowerbird project and a Flickr album you can view all year round.

Happy wild pollinator spotting!

Get set – the autumn Wild Pollinator Count starts this Sunday

Wild Pollinator Count flyer image, April 2016The next round of the Wild Pollinator Count is nearly here. Help us to build a picture of the pollinator insects that are active in your area at this time of year by doing your own count between Sunday April 10th and Sunday April 17th.

While you don’t need any fancy equipment or special skills to participate in the Wild Pollinator Count, you might like to plan ahead so you’re all set to go.

All it takes is to spend 10 minutes watching a flowering plant of your choice, take note of the potential insect pollinators you see and let us know by reporting your results on our website. We’ve got resources to help you, including how to count instructions, a printable tally sheet, pollinator insect identification tips, guide to common pollinator insects, frequently asked questions and more.

With the seasonal differences compared to November (our other count period), you can expect to find different flowers in bloom and perhaps different species or numbers of pollinator insects.

Where will you count?

The project is designed to allow participants to count as close to home as possible. So your garden or a flowering plant in the neighbourhood are great places to start. If you have a favourite bushland or park, you might like to count there. Across Australia the range of plants flowering in the count week will vary, so pick a spot where you can find flowers to watch. If a plant you watched in November is flowering, you might like to count again on it to see if the pollinator insects visiting are similar or different.

Remember, we’re keen to know which plant you observed for the count, and whether it’s a native or exotic. If you aren’t sure of the plant name, you might try to find out or you could share a photo with your count. If you would like to observe a number of plants, please try to do each plant as a separate count. This way, we see which plants and pollinators are associated, rather than a more general picture of the pollinators across a garden or landscape.

When will you count?

Image of counting with clipboard and coffee in a garden

Thea O’Loughlin tweeted the “cuppa and count” approach last November. Thanks @TerraThea

Many pollinator insects are only active when it’s warm (over 15° C), so we recommend trying to count on a sunny day. If the weather is cooler or overcast for your count, you might see mainly flies, European honey bees or European wasps. They tend to be more cold-tolerant than native bees, wasps or other flying insects. If the forecast isn’t great in your area on days you have time to spare, you might like to try to do a count in a lunch or tea break to take advantage of better conditions. If you’d like you can also note the weather in your observation notes (but you don’t have to).

Tell your friends and keep in touch

Don’t forget you can keep up with all the news from the count by subscribing to our email news, following our website or via the #OzPollinators hashtag on social media (we tweet but the hashtag works for public posts on facebook and instagram too!). During the count you can upload photos to our flickr group or post to our project on

Join the fun by adding your comments or photos during the count, or even as you plan for the week … the more the merrier!

A pollination predicament: Bumblebees and their presence in Tasmania

In February 1992, in a garden in the waterfront suburb of Hobart, Battery Point, a couple of bumblebees turned up. They were Bombus terrestris, the large earth bumblebee, and their presence was a surprise, given that no native bumblebees exist in Tasmania or mainland Australia. At first only two bees were seen, but by the following year they were popping up all around Hobart. It is highly likely that one or a few bumblebee queens had made it to Tasmania by boat from New Zealand, where they persist in successful, long-term, feral populations. The Battery Point bees could have arrived as either accidental stowaways, or as a deliberate and illegal introduction by an unknown offender? Now, exactly 24 years later, bumblebees have successfully established across every region of Tasmania, and are found in both urban environments and a wide range of native vegetation types.

Early this month an Australian Senate Committee was established to assess “The risks and opportunities associated with the use of the bumblebee population in Tasmania for commercial pollination purposes”. The committee lists seven focus points related to the potential use of bumblebees in commercial crop pollination, which they plan to investigate further.

The large earth bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, is now common across Tasmania. Here it visits an introduced thistle.

The large earth bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, is now common across Tasmania. In this photo a worker bee visits an introduced thistle. Large earth bumblebees were introduced to Tasmania from New Zealand in 1992. They are not native to New Zealand either, however, having been introduced there from England over 100 years ago for the pollination of red clover. While Australia has an estimated 2000 native bee species, we have no native bumblebees (Bombus spp.). Photo: Loy Xingwen

Bumblebees and crop pollination

For some time, glasshouse farmers (in particular tomato and capsicum growers, both in Tasmania and on the Australian mainland) have been calling for the legalised use of introduced bumblebees in the pollination of their crops. Evidence from overseas shows that bumblebees are very effective pollinators of crops such as tomatoes, capsicums, eggplants, chillies, and blueberries. The reason for this is that these plant species benefit from a type of pollination known as ‘buzz pollination’. The pollen from buzz pollinated plants is presented in their flowers differently to the way it is in most other types of flowering plants. In ‘typical’ flowers, the pollen is presented on the outside of the male part of the flower, the anther. In plants that are buzz pollinated, however, the anther is tubular in structure, and the pollen is presented inside this. To get the pollen out of this tube most effectively the flower is vibrated, to shake the pollen out of the end of the tube. Continue reading

April Count announced!

We are pleased to announce the dates for the autumn National Wild Pollinator Count, April 10-17 2016.

To help keen pollinator counters plan ahead, we have also decided to lock in the second full week of April & November for future count weeks, which will run from Sunday-Sunday. We will still remind you of exact dates prior to each count.

Remember, the count can be conducted anywhere, at any time during that week. Details on how to count can be found here.

If you haven’t already, make sure to sign up for our e-news updates to keep up with WPC news and blog posts. And you can share photos and resources with us year-round via the #ozpollinators hashtag on Twitter or the WPC project page in Bowerbird.


Reminder: Data & Photo Competition

Just a quick reminder to submit your observation data by Friday 27 November – click here to submit.

And don’t forget our photo competition, with lots of categories, including one for students! Entries close Friday 27 November too. If you have already emailed us some photos as part of your count, consider entering 1 or 2 in the competition. Photos that have been emailed to us without a competition entry form will not automatically be included in judging, so please fill out an entry form if you would like to enter (and make sure to let us know which photos you are entering!).


There’s still time to do a count!

Thanks to everyone who has joined in the November 2015 count so far. We’ve crossed the continent since our last count – our first observations from Western Australia were submitted this time!

There are still a couple of days left to do a count (until Sunday November 22), and you are welcome to submit another observation even if you have already submitted one.

With the hot weather much of the country has been experiencing over the last couple of days, there’s more of a chance of seeing pollinators earlier in the morning and later in the evening. This suits us just fine, as it means we don’t have to be out in the hottest part of the day!

We’ve had a busy week here in Albury, with some great public events on thanks to the Slopes2 Summit partnership. We were delighted to meet native bee enthusiast Dr Michael Batley, who gave a public talk at the Albury Botanic Gardens on Wednesday night, sharing the wonderful antics of some of our native bees. On Thursday, he joined us at the Wirraminna Environmental Education Centre at Burrumbuttock, where we hosted some eager school groups. Wirraminna is a beautiful location, and it was the perfect spot to get the kids outside in nature, looking for insects on the diverse array of native flowers that were on show.

The highlight of the week has been the discovery that we have 3 different species of blue-banded bee in the Albury region, not just 1, as previous records show – you can read Karen’s blog about the excitement here. More inspiration to get out there looking for the little things we often miss!

It’s been particularly rewarding to see how fascinated people are to discover that bees aren’t our only native pollinators! The #ozpollinators hashtag has certainly been getting a workout on social media, and we’d love to see your pictures too. You can also share pictures & ID tips with the hashtag in between counts.

And don’t forget our photo competition – you have until November 27 to get your entries in, and we even have a prize for the best ‘near miss’ shot! You can find the entry form and conditions here.






Time to count!

The third National Wild Pollinator Count is here! Take a 10 minute break and join in anywhere in Australia, any time between 15-22 November.

You can find all the details on how to count here and have a look at our counting FAQ if you have any questions. If you are in the Albury region, we have a number of events on this week, including a public talk at the Albury Botanic Gardens by native bee enthusiast Dr Michael Batley.

We are also excited to announce a new resource, just in time for the count! This handy identification guide shows some of the most common pollinator insects you might see on your flowers. The guide illustrates common pollinator insects found in the south-west slopes of New South Wales/north-east Victoria regions, but you are likely to see many similar species across Australia. Thanks to the Slopes2Summit Partnership and NSW Environmental Trust for helping us develop this great resource.

Happy pollinator counting!


Wild Pollinator Count Photo Competition

We are excited to announce our new photo competition! Click through to find details here. There are lots of prize categories, including one for those frustrating ‘Near Misses’ we have all had.

UPDATE: The competition is open to anyone. However, some categories will only be open to people in the sponsorship area in the southern New South Wales S2S region (see event page for details). But we hope to make the national comp a permanent fixture for future counts!

If you don’t want to enter the competition, we would still love you to send us your photos so we can add them to our Photo Gallery.

Photo competition flyer