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A big hello from Team PollinATE!

Welcome to the very first Team PollinATE blog post! Thanks so much to all of you that have signed up to volunteer and help us collect data on pollinators in allotments across our city. Over 50 of you have signed up so far which is fantastic! You can also give us a 'Like' on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, plus I'd be really grateful if you could spread the word about the project and encourage your fellow plot-holders to take part (you can download a copy of the poster here).

I'll be sending you information on how exactly to collect data, as well as updating the website with this info very soon. In the meantime, I hope some of you will be able to make it along to our training event on 9th May at the Brighthelm Centre, starting at 7pm. This will be a great chance to meet myself and bumblebee expert Prof. Dave Goulson, and learn a bit more about the project. We'll also be teaching you how to identify the pollinating insects that might visit your plot*.

I've been very busy this month visiting allotments across the city and chatting to your site reps who have all been very helpful and welcoming. I've already seen some interesting pollinators on my travels, including the common mourning bee (Melecta albifrons), pictured to the left. This species is a type of 'cuckoo bee' and just like the birds of the same name lays its eggs in the nests of other bees. Specifically this species parasitises the Hairy-footed flower bee (Anthophora plumipes), which you may have also spotted on your plots recently. Female flower bees are entirely black except for some red hairs on their hind legs, and the males can be spotted hovering and darting between flowers, chasing the females.

Other insects you might have seen include butterflies such as the Comma which are one of the earliest to emerge from hibernation, and hoverflies such as the drone fly (Eristalis tenax). I'm looking forward to spending more time on the allotments this summer, recording bees and chatting with plot holders.

Hope to see some of you at our training event!

Beth (Team PollinATE co-ordinator)

*You should have received an email inviting you to this event- if it's not reached you, try checking your junk mail and if it's not lurking there then let me know!

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Team PollinATE, JMS Building, University of Sussex, Falmer, BN1 9QG


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