School of Life Sciences, JMS Building, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton

©2018 by Buzz Club. Logo created by Ross Napier

Buzzing Balconies - Results

The project was popular with volunteers, and demonstrated that insects do find and visit these new habitat patches, and pollinate the strawberries there.

The mini-meadows were planted on:

  • balconies (59%)

  • courtyards (30%)

  • and roof gardens (11%).

These urban spaces do not often contain many flowers, so our meadows certainly brightened them up!

Above: Pie chart showing the types of outdoor spaces planted with mini-meadows.

Below: Examples of the different places planted with mini-meadows and strawberries.

Insect visitors

 

Volunteers recorded up to 31 insects of 13 species visiting the mini wild flower meadow and strawberry plant habitat.

Insect species seen

Bee

Beetle

Red-tailed bumblebee

Butterfly

Cabbage-white butterfly

Fly

Fritillary butterfly

Honeybee

Hoverfly

Large white butterfly

Peacock butterfly

Solitary bee

Yellow-tailed bumblebee

Strawberry success?

 

We found that hand-pollinated plants produced (an average of) 7 strawberries per plant; weighing 5 g each.  Insect-pollinated plants produced 8 strawberries weighing 6 g each (Figure 1 and 2). This demonstrates that insect pollinators are finding and pollinating the vertical habitat volunteers have created!

Right: strawberries grown by our volunteers.

Below: box plots of the data collected.

Boxplot illustrating the number of strawberries produced by hand-pollinated plants (mean 7 ±2.69 standard deviation, SD) compared with insect-pollinated plants (8 ±3.85 SD). This demonstrates no significant difference between the two groups, which means insects are able to locate and pollinate flowers in balconies, courtyards and rooftops in the city of Brighton & Hove. 

Project summary

We received a very positive response from people who wanted to volunteer for our Buzzing Balconies project. Thanks to this interest, our project successfully created over 65 wildflower habitats in balconies, courtyards, and roof tops in the city of Brighton & Hove. In addition, we were able to demonstrate that this habitat is being located, visited and pollinated by wild insects.

Balconies buzzing all over Brighton & Hove

Taking part in Buzzing Balconies - what did people say?

 

Out of our volunteer citizen scientists, reasons for taking part in the project were:

  • 71% thought it would be fun

  • 61% were interested in ecology and conservation generally

  • 43% had children that they wanted to do experiments with

  • 36% were specifically interested in pollination and / or insects. 

Feedback from volunteers:

“I fully intend to keep both compost alive until next year so I can enjoy it all again next year :-)”

 

“Have had a decent amount of strawberries & the wild flowers attracted more insects that I imagined. Thank you for including me in the study”

 

“We've enjoyed the project and the children had great fun!”

 

“Enjoyed doing this, even if my results weren't great. I'd also be interested to know your findings.”

 

“Enjoyed it, the pollinators worked well”

 

“Thank you for the opportunity to take part - my little daughter and I enjoyed it even though only one strawberry plant survived and it didn't flower! The mini meadow was fab. Thank you.”

Boxplot illustrating the weight of strawberries produced by hand-pollinated plants (5 ±1.89 SD) compared with insect-pollinated plants (6 ±2.31 SD). This demonstrates no significant difference between the two groups, but the trend may suggest that insects are better at pollinating flowers than people.  

Overview of Buzzing Balconies

Our idea was to engage people, particularly families living in urban areas, that don’t have ready access to a garden to experience visits from wild bees and other pollinators, and demonstrate that you can attract wildlife to even small, elevated spaces such as balconies and roof tops. In addition, we wanted to give people an insight into the design and implementation of a scientific experiment, and opportunity to get involved and collect data as citizen scientists. Finally, we wanted to create vertical habitat for pollinators in Brighton & Hove by creating mini wildflower meadows in courtyards, balconies, and roof tops. 

 

We had 93 expressions of interest (the target was 100), and 65 kits picked up on our open days or delivered depending on mobility, to 61 different Brighton & Hove homes. We continued engaging with volunteers for the duration of the project, by tweeting updates and emailing reminders. 

 

We had 94 followers on our @BuzzingBalcony Twitter page, we posted 80 tweets, received 109 likes, and our YouTube methods videos had up to 194 views. 100% of our volunteers planted the mini-meadows and strawberries on balconies (59%), courtyards (30%) or roof tops (11%). The smallest outdoor space was the size of the grow bags. Volunteers recorded up to 31 insects of 13 species visiting meadow and strawberry flowers. Hand-pollinated plants produced on average 7 strawberries weighing 5 g each, and insect-pollinated strawberry plants produced on average 8 strawberries weighing 6 g each. This demonstrates that insect pollinators are locating and feeding in the vertical habitat volunteers had created. Management advice was given to volunteers at the end of the project, to encourage them to keep the habitat for them and the wild insects to enjoy for years to come.

Downloads

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Instructions

Printable, detailed method for setting up a Buzzing Balcony

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Recording sheets

Printable sheets for recording your flower counts, strawberry weights, and insect spottings.

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Identification guide

Starter guide with lots of pictures to help you identify the insects that visit
your meadow.