2024 Schools Bumblebee Art Competition

This year we had entries from 21 primary and junior schools, pre-schools, home-schools across the Bailiwick. In total 1553 artworks were submitted and the judges had an incredibly tricky job selecting the best.  Many congratulations to all of our winners and we hope that everyone that submitted an entry will find theirs somewhere in the Guille-Allès library.

 

2024 Prize Winners

 

Bumblebee Art

 

Prize giving at the Guille-Allès Library

My Guernsey Future – meeting the next generation of change-makers

aerial photo of fields

Maddie Lucas blogs about her involvement in My Guernsey Future where she met and inspired school pupils who are interested in climate change, policy, science and our work. 

female faceOn an unusually warm Thursday this October, I had the privilege of representing the Pollinator Project at My Guernsey Future, a networking and discussion which aimed to bring young people who are concerned about climate change together with island leaders who have the power to make change. 

 The event, hosted at Government House by the Lieutenant-Governor of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, opened with speeches from students.  The speakers and audience included pupils from primary schools, secondary, sixth form and colleges across the island. They expressed their concerns about the impacts of climate change on our island community, including sea level and temperature rise, more erratic weather events, and the knock-on effects this will have on our society.  

From my own reading, I know that coastal communities like Guernsey are on the climate change frontline, facing increasing flooding, temperature, and precipitation as well as a rise in sea level, wave heights, and accelerated erosion (Zsamboky et al., 2011). Couple this with the fact that research shows children born in 2020 will experience a two to sevenfold increase in climate-change induced extreme events compared with people born in 1960 (Thiery et al., 2021), and you can understand the younger generation’s worry about the world they will inherit. 

After the speeches, I was excited to have the opportunity to speak with some of the young people about the Pollinator Project’s work. I spoke to year six students about the importance of the ecosystem services our pollinating insects provide us with, for example, supporting the reproductive cycle of nearly 90% of flowering plants and pollinating our crops to provide us with food (Ollerton, 2011). I was incredibly pleased to see that the students were so passionate, well-informed, and eager to relay their own knowledge of pollinators!  

I also emphasised the ability of each person to support our pollinators through individual actions including planting native wildflower patches and pollinator-friendly plants in their gardens, reducing mowing, and getting rid of pesticides such as weed killer and bug spray. Cutting out insecticides directly helps our pollinators by limiting their exposure to the accumulation of harmful toxins, which can have both lethal and sublethal effects. For example, Neonicotinoid insecticides have been found to reduce bee memory and navigational skills, fertility, and disease resistance (Lewington, 2023). Planting pollinator-friendly plants, ending herbicide use, and reducing mowing all help to increase habitat connectivity and provide our pollinators with vital food sources to support declining populations. Habitat loss and degradation have been key drivers in pollinator population declines. With approximately 30% of Guernsey’s land cover being gardens, there is a huge opportunity for local people to make a difference. Making space for pollinators wherever possible is crucial to reverse these declines.  

The harmful impact of pesticides on pollinator populations is one of the issues that the Pollinator Project are proactively working to address. Dr Miranda Bane, co-director and science lead at the Pollinator Project has secured a Natural Environment Research Council grant with the University of Bristol to continue research in this area. I spoke with some of the older students about the opportunities this grant will bring to the Channel Islands over the next four years, including funding to continue the internship position I undertook this summer conducting bumblebee DNA surveys The survey data collected will be analysed to find out how Bufftailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) colony density across the islands is influenced by pesticide reduction, and to measure the presence of pesticides in our pollinators. There are also other opportunities soon to be announced, including master’s thesis projects and PhD opportunities 

The evening was thoroughly enjoyable, and Guernsey’s younger generation astounded me with the level of enthusiasm each student held about the protection and conservation of our islands. I left the event with a fierce sense of pride and no doubt in my mind that Guernsey’s future will be in safe hands. However, until the younger generation has the capability to enact change themselves, it is more vitally important than ever that we listen to their fears, use our voices, and encourage action now.  

With thanks to Lieutenant-Governor Richard Cripwell for kindly hosting, and to Mia Edgworth, one of 2022’s Lieutenant-Governor’s Cadets who organised the event. 

References 

Lewington, R. 2023. Pocket guide to the Bumblebees of Great Britain and Ireland. Bloomsbury Publishing. 

Ollerton, J., Winfree, R. and Tarrant, S., 2011. How many flowering plants are pollinated by animals?. Oikos, 120(3), pp.321-326. 

Thiery, W., Lange, S., Rogelj, J., Schleussner, C.F., Gudmundsson, L., Seneviratne, S.I., Andrijevic, M., Frieler, K., Emanuel, K., Geiger, T. and Bresch, D.N., 2021. Intergenerational inequities in exposure to climate extremes. Science, 374(6564), pp.158-160.   

Zsamboky, M., Fernández-Bilbao, A., Smith, D., Knight, J. and Allan, J., 2011. Impacts of climate change on disadvantaged UK coastal communities. Joseph Rowntree Foundation, pp.1-63. 

 

Intern blog: Being a field assistant

man in garden looking at insect tent

I’m Taliesin Valencia and I’m second-year environmental science student at the University of Stirling.

I had the chance to work with the Pollinator Project this summer, as a Field Assistant setting up a malaise trap in a fixed location, collecting samples from it each week, and then taking it down one month had elapsed.

I also helped Maddie Lucas in her field assistant intern role, where we surveyed eight total sample areas in Guernsey and another five in Sark. The purpose of these surveys was to take a small tarsal sample of Bombus terrestris, aka the Buff-tailed bumblebee, in a long-term project that will monitor the impacts of pesticide use across these two Channel Islands. This DNA sample will also enable us to determine how many unique bee colonies there are on the island. Our data is part of seven years of sampling data, which should correlate with the strides in the reduction of pesticide use that the Pollinator Project has achieved. Hopefully, we will see the buff-tail species population increase too!

I have always been interested in the environment around me; and from a young age I preferred non-fiction books about the different ecosystems and species inhabiting our planet. Throughout high school, this interest deepened when I began to study biology at a higher level. The inner workings of various ecosystems and how each species fits into a particular niche have always fascinated me.

The climate crisis and increasing awareness of our atmosphere led me to aim for an environmental science degree early in my academic career and I aspire to become an environmental consultant later in my career.

This experience with the Pollinator Project has been excellent, and I am very much looking forward to working with the charity again in the future.

First of its kind research programme comes to the Channel Islands

man adjusting malaise tent in field

A collaboration between the Pollinator Project and the University of Bristol has secured a near £1 million grant from the UK to study Channel Island pollinators.

woman in a wood

Dr Miranda Bane, who grew up on Guernsey, will be leading the work in Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney and Sark and will be looking at the abundance and diversity of pollinators across the islands.

The research is unique in studying what happens to the number and variety of pollinators in the real world as pesticide use reduces. It’s the first in the world to do this on an entire island and it will also showcase the Channel Islands for the first time as a world leader in this research area.

Miranda said: “I have always been inspired by the beautiful nature on our island. To be able to bring research expertise on pollinators back to the islands, to help protect and enhance our natural environment, has been my goal since choosing an academic career. It has taken almost 4 years, a lot of hard work and the invaluable support of so many people to secure this research grant. I am so grateful for all the support and so excited to be working on my dream project.”

Professor Jane Memmott from the University of Bristol is head of the UK research team who will regularly visit the islands. Professor Memmott said: “Islands can be viewed as microcosms of the world, large enough to be realistic, but small enough to be tractable for study. And I’m really excited to be working with a team on the Channel Islands for the next four years on pollinators and pesticides.”

The funding enables four years of research on pollinating insects across Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, and Sark. It’s a long-term look at these beneficial insects including bees, butterflies, wasps, flies, beetles and moths and aims to answer questions about the impacts of pesticides on their numbers and will help support future conservation efforts.

Opportunities available in 2024

The money which is being provided by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) will create a number of on-island career opportunities from early next year including a full-time research technician post, annual research internships, a PhD position, and several Master’s degree study opportunities. It will also fund DNA analysis and testing for the presence of pesticides in pollinators through a world-class Canadian laboratory.

Work has been going on since 2019 in preparation with teams of citizen scientists led by Miranda collecting baseline data. In addition States Works have stopped using glyphosate and  the States of Guernsey’s 2022 restriction on the sale of glyphosate products have all contributed to a reduction in use.

Latest news…

Meet Maddie: our Field Intern helping us research bumblebees DNA

girl kneeling at bench doing bumblebee fieldwork

My name is Madison Lucas, and this summer I am working with the Pollinator Project as their 2023 field assistant intern.

I graduated in 2022 from the University of Leeds with a master’s degree in Ecology and Conservation Biology. Growing up in Guernsey fostered my love for nature, and now that I’m back living on island, I’m keen to use my studies and contribute towards protecting our incredible island ecosystem.  

In my spare time, I am a self-taught naturalist. I’m currently in the process of compiling a personal pan-species list – a ‘compendium’ of sorts where I record every species I have seen. My interest in naturalism developed more during the pandemic, when the Pollinator Project sent out a leaflet showing all the butterfly species that breed in Guernsey. I learnt how to identify the butterflies using the leaflet and spent that summer attempting to see at least one individual of each species. The most most exciting sighting was seeing the Glanville Fritillary, a species I had been taught about at university, but never seen.

Now, I have come full circle, and have the privilege of working with the charity which contributed so greatly to the development of my passion for our environment! 

This summer I am conducting bee surveys across Guernsey and Sark. The DNA samples I collect will be used to monitor the density of bumblebee colonies on the islands, ultimately allowing the team at the Pollinator Project to determine the impact of pesticide use on our local bumblebees. Along the way, I’m hoping to find a few species that are stubbornly missing from my Guernsey list – namely the Vestal Cuckoo bumblebee, and the Early Bumblebee.

More than anything, it’s great to get back into what every ecologist loves the most – field work! 

Latest news…

 

Moths matter art competition winners announced  

Moth art competition winners and organisers

1,208 moth artworks displayed at Guille-Alles library exhibition 1 – 20 August 

More than 1,200 children in the Bailiwick have their artwork shown in an exhibition this summer as part of an education initiative run by the Pollinator Project about the role of moths in pollination. 

The art project, which is supported by law firm led professional services business, Mourant, focuses on 20 insects in the Lepidopteraorder – moths – and is on display from 1 to 20 August in the entrance hallway and landing at the Guille-Alles Library in St Peter Port, Guernsey.  

The exhibition is the last component of the 2023 Pollinator Project campaign and follows on from this spring’s talks to 4,000 Bailiwick primary school children about the wonders of moths. All these pupils and hundreds more received moth identification packs including take-home leaflets and classroom posters. The annual award-winning campaign is aimed at age 2 to 10 and reaches 21 schools across Guernsey, Sark and Alderney, as well as home-schooled children. 

As part of this year’s initiative, children created their own moth from an activity sheet, designed in conjunction with Guernsey Arts.  

A giant moth figure, created by local artist Kevin Hickman and with antenna woven by Guernsey-based Rae Bearder, of Rae’s Willowcraft, is also on display.  

Laura Harrison, Pollinator Project education lead said: “The Pollinator Project moth competition had so many brilliantly bright moths created by talented local children so we have put these on display at the Guille-Alles library for everyone to enjoy for free. It’s great to see that so many kids have understood the beautiful colours our moths have – they are definitely not dull and boring! We have had over 1,200 entries, from schools and pre-schools across the Bailiwick which is fantastic and judging them all was a really hard job.” 

Competition winners 

Three children and their families have won a prize for their school, either £500, £250 or £100 worth of vouchers for GROW Ltd so that they can create or expand their own pollinator patch. These three children will also receive individual prizes a personalised t-shirt of their moth design, a framed copy of their artwork, and a voucher for the environmental website NHBS worth £100, £75, and £50 respectively for first, second and third place.  

The judge was Alana Gillies Ridout, Partner in the Guernsey Corporate practice at Mourant, who said: “I was very impressed with the overall standard of entries. The winner Theo Smith’s (age 9) entry stood out particularly due to its inventive use of seed heads, leaves and other natural materials to closely approximate an Emperor moth. 

“The second prize, won by Isla Aylward, age 6, from St Martins School, also used natural materials including pressed flowers, herbs and even feathers to create a lovely colourful image.  

The detailed nature of the shading was notable in the third prize won by Isabelle Grayland aged 11”. 

Both the first prize winner Theo Smith and the third prize winner Isabelle Grayland attend Vale Primary School so have won £600 for the school’s gardens.  

Laura Harrison, education lead for the Pollinator project said: “There were almost as many moth artworks as the 1300 types of moths we have in Guernsey, and they have been great to see. There were many inventive entries, with everything from a Spiderman themed moth, one that looked like a stained-glass window, and lots of rainbow-coloured creatures”.  

Bailiwick’s children’s favourite moth to decorate 

Laura continued: ‘We particularly liked that many children who entered into our competition looked at the “20 Guernsey Moth” posters and leaflets and designed their moth to look like their favourite. 586 entries were decorated to look accurately like a locally found moth and we can reveal that the Bailiwick’s school children’s favourite moth is the Jersey Tiger moth, with 119 entries! This was closely followed by the Light Emerald with 103 created, and the third favourite was the Emperor moth.” 

Children encourage adults to participate in conservation 

The next step in the annual campaign is about conservation – feeding local moths. Every child that submitted their art for the competition was provided with a packet of pesticide-free, non-invasive seeds to sow their own pollinator-friendly flower mixin their garden or planter at home this summer. The aim is to encourage children and their families to increase the habitat and food source for more local beneficial insects. Children can also watch the plants grow into food sources for the insects they learn about in school. 

Pollinator Projects co-founder Barry (the bug man) Wells explains: Our popular pollinator education campaign, which started five years ago teaching children about bees, then butterflies, bugs and beetles has this year focused this year on 20 of the 1,300 moths in Guernsey. Moths are really important pollinators but are often overlooked or misunderstood. Children who first learned about bumblebees in year 3 will now be in year 7, so have increased their knowledge of many pollinators over the years. We whole-heartedly thank Mourant for supporting this awareness campaign by funding the design and print of the identification guides and classroom posters and purchasing the pollinator-friendly seeds.”  

About the Jersey Tiger moth  

Named for the distinctive markings on their wings, which resemble a tiger’s and commonly found in the Europe and the Channel Islands (but not the UK in Victorian times); this black, cream and orange moth has a wingspan of 52–65 millimetres and flies July to September. The scientific name is Euplagia quadripunctaria and they are day-flying moths feeding on buddleia and hemp-agrimony.  

The larvae (caterpillars) feed on several plants (September to May) on the leaves of nettles, raspberries, dandelions, white deadnettle, ground ivy, plantain, borage, lettuce and hemp-agrimony.

Pollinator Internships for 2024

woman crouching by field of flowers
Summer Internship Opportunities

• Do you care about protecting our island’s vital pollinating insects?
• Are you interested in learning valuable research, conservation, and
communication skills?
• Are you organised, enthusiastic and able to work flexibly?

The Pollinator Project are offering multiple fantastic summer internship opportunities. These would be an ideal opportunity for someone looking to gain experience working with a conservation charity.

There are 3 specific roles you can apply for:

1) Research Field Assistant, in partnership with the University of Bristol
o Learn advanced survey techniques and work alongside researchers
from the University of Bristol to carry out a bumblebee DNA survey on
Guernsey and Sark. Be part of a long-term, pan-island research project
monitoring the health of pollinator populations and the impact of
pesticides.

Read more

2) Ecology and Conservation Assistant
o Learn a variety of survey, research and natural history skills, working
with Pollinator Project team experts. This is an opportunity to
experience and support the diversity of work we do as a charity to help
pollinators on the Channel Islands. Take part in surveys, represent the
charity at events or get stuck into some data analysis – we can tailor this role to suit you.

Read more

3) Pollinator Content Creator
o Looking to use your skills for communication and creative media? Work
with our Pollinator Project Communications Leader to create a mini
comms project using social media, film, photography and any other
creative skills you can bring.

Read more

All roles will be supported by a mentor and the wider Pollinator Project team. Any
necessary training will be provided, though relevant experience is welcome. We
particularly invite applications from students or career switchers looking to enhance their CV. Please let us know if you have specific skills or ideas that you want to develop within an internship.

All interns will be awarded an ex-gratia payment of £500 on completion of their
internship. Reasonable local expenses will be covered.

How to Apply
Please email Dr Miranda Bane at miranda@pollinatorproject.gg with your CV and/or a cover letter stating which internship you are interested in and why you would be a good fit for the role.

Deadline for applications: Friday 14th June 2:00pm
Interviews will be online or via telephone the following week.

The Wild Escape Weekend 18th and 19th March

We are really looking forward to The Wild Escape Weekend at Candie Museum Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th March. Come and meet us, join a workshop, do some colouring or even origami- we have lots happening.

From 10 am: we’ll have colouring, terracotta pot painting for you to take home, butterfly origami, advice and free flower seeds.
11am Sunday – Barry the Bugman will talk about Guernsey mini-beasts (aimed at kids but fascinating to all!)
2pm – Gordon will talk about why we work to save pollinators and how they are portrayed in art, new and old.
It’s at the Guernsey Museum at Candie, £7 for adults, £2 for age 7-17, free for under 7s. Or free with a Discovery Pass. All talks and activities are free too.
There are plenty of other child and art activities there too.

It’s a UK national event and you can find out more about the thinking behind the event https://thewildescape.org.uk/

 

 

 

 

We are looking for a new Treasurer

The Pollinator Project LBG is one of the island’s most successful environmental charities. We know that our pollinators including bees, butterflies, moths and other flying insects are vital to our food supply, our well-being and biodiversity on the island. And that they are under threat. So in the 6 years since we formed we have focused on four core activities: education, citizen science, protecting habitats and campaigning against the use of pesticides.

In 2023 we will take on our first employee, launch bee trails and engage with over 4000 primary and junior school children when we share our love of moths with them among many other things. We pride ourselves on getting stuff done.

 

As our treasurer, you will be volunteering to be a member of the board, and to play a key role in our organisation. We hope you will bring financial controls, budgeting disciplines, manage our audit and relationships with insurers and the banks. And we know you will want to be more than our bookkeeper. You’ll have contacts, views on policies, and you might want to join us in a field or two.

 

We meet every two weeks to check in and as a board quarterly and flex our times and days to try and match those in full-time employment or with caring responsibilities. Your time commitment can be as little as an hour a week, but that’s how we all started…

 

Please contact our chair, Gordon Steele, in the first instance to explore how you might be part of helping Guernsey’s nature.

 

grs3101@gmail.com

07781 401004

 

PS If you’ve seen this and just want to know more about us or better still have ideas, time for volunteering or some feedback we welcome that too.

 

 

 

Glyphosate is going

Roundup container on grass

Glyphosate is going, going, gone.   

The Pollinator Project is truly delighted that weed killers containing glyphosate are being phased out in 2022 and will be banned from general use in Guernsey from the start of 2023.  

This is such a great first step towards going fully pesticide-free and is a necessary step to protect our fragile wildlife and our sources of locally grown food. Lots of other UK councils have done this as well as whole nations like France and Luxembourg so we’re very glad Guernsey has reacted like this to the latest news on contamination of water courses.    

So what do I need to know?  

Under the Poisonous Substances (Guernsey) Law, the States of Guernsey’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is introducing a restriction preventing these 152 products being sold, stored or used.  

From 31 October you won’t be able to buy glyphosate in Guernsey (or online for shipping to Guernsey).  

From 1 Jan 2023 you will not be able to use or store products containing glyphosate.  

We encourage you to dispose of your products at Longue Hougue recycling centre.  

Professional pesticide users are encouraged by the States of Guernsey to limit their use and explore alternative control methods.  Professional use of glyphosate can only be done by those holding an NPTC certificate of competence.  

Why is this happening? 

Earlier this year Guernsey Water appealed to Islanders not to use glyphosate products after they saw multiple high readings of glyphosate in water courses, which the States says are increasingly linked to domestic use of glyphosate. Many people including the Pollinator Project are also concerned with the impact of glyphosate products on the Island’s biodiversity.  

Robin Gonard, Chief Health & Safety Officer, said: “We do believe it will help improve water quality and protect our biodiversity.” 

What’s the next step in going Pesticide Free?   

We also think there is a need for greater transparency of what volume and frequency of glyphosate products are sold to professionals – and where these are used. We’d also like to see a register of professionally qualified people firmed up so that it is refreshed annually with up-to-date controls of incoming and outgoing contractors too.  

Aside from glyphosate, there are many more products sold and used that harm the environment for the sake of looks. So our aim is to work with government, corporates and land owners to be the first island in Britain to be pesticide-free. We do have a caveat for regulated uses by licensed professionals such as on Japanese knotweed or Asian Hornets but there is little to no need for the other pesticides like chemical insecticides and synthetic slug pellets when there are natural methods available.   We are asking people to stop using all pesticides.    

So what do I use instead? What are the alternatives?  

We would not recommend using most of the branded ‘glyphosate-free’ weedkilling products like Roundup that are on sale in some garden centres as you may just be replacing one problem with another. They often contain synthetic manmade chemicals – which are not naturally in the environment. There’s no requirement for all the ingredients to be listed. There’s very little practical experience of what they do to the environment, and some appear to be not much more than a bottle of chemicals with a marketing label on. And more scientifically-speaking, research by University College Dublin has shown that these new ‘co-formulants” also harm bees. Organic liquids like a mix of white vinegar with a bit of salt work well on grass and broadleaved plants – as does a hoe, a rake, or the new weed burners too.

Or best of all leaving plants to flower and appreciating their beauty and their role in a healthy ecosystem.