London

'Licence plated' bees released to find top London spot

Bee with a tag Image copyright Queen Mary University
Image caption Biologists hope to find out where the bees' favourite locations are in London

Hundreds of bees fitted with "licence plates" are to be released from a London rooftop.

They have been fitted with individual coloured number tags on their backs.

Queen Mary University biologists hope the project will establish what are bees' preferred patches in which to pollinate in London.

Five hundred bees will be released on Tuesday, followed by several hundred more each week over the coming month as bee colonies mature.

It is hoped people will be able to spot the bees, then enter photographs of them into a competition to find the best picture, highest number of bees spotted and most bee-friendly garden.

Once the bees are released, the researchers will be able to see how successful urban gardening efforts have been.

Image copyright Queen Mary University
Image caption Nature lovers can win a £100 voucher in a competition for the best photographs of the insects

Project leader Prof Lars Chittka from the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences said: "The fact that the bees have individual 'licence plates' will allow anyone interested to develop their own science project, and ask scientific questions about the behaviour of bees.

"For example, citizen scientists might be intrigued to see the same bee return to their balcony and might record when during the day, how many times and which flowers they prefer.

"They may be curious about what these regular visits tell us about a bee's memory for places and why certain bees prefer particular colour flowers."

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