Global honey bee populations are decreasing at an alarming rate, and together, we can be part of the solution to turn this trend around.

Did you know?

Honeybees are essential for pollinating around one third of the food we eat, including fruit, vegetables, oils, seeds and nuts – yet globally their heath and ability to pollinate our crops is under serious threat.

Why help the honey bee?

There are significant gaps in our knowledge of normal bee behaviour, which presents a challenge for scientists trying to prevent colony collapse. There are complex interacting factors involved in the significant decline in bee populations, including intensified agriculture, habitat loss, the Varroa mite, bee pathogens, pesticides and climate change.

Understanding how bees spend their time, how far they travel and what they are doing is critical to finding solutions to these and the many other threats they face.

Connecting people to science and nature

Bees with backpacks is Earthwatch Australia’s citizen science contribution to understanding and preventing colony collapse, and forms part of the Global Initiative for Honey bee Health (GIHH). Earthwatch is working with CSIRO to connect citizen scientists with this issue.

Why is Earthwatch involved?

Earthwatch is raising money to help establish Bees With Backpacks, an ambitious citizen science program that will connect everyday Australians to the global effort to save the honey bee.

The project provides an enormous opportunity to involve large numbers of people from all walks of life in real environmental science, and consequently inspire many more people to change attitudes and actions to live sustainably.

What will citizen scientists do?

At each hive Earthwatch establishes, we’ll schedule fortnightly “Scientist for a Day” workshops. Our citizen scientists will work directly with researchers to place tiny radio-frequency identification (RFID) sensor tags on the bees to record spatial and temporal information about their behaviours and any deviations from the norm.

As a “Scientist for a day” participant, you’ll come away with a greater appreciation for our ecosystems, biodiversity, the fundamental role pollinators play in food production, and most importantly, a greater knowledge of actions you can take to keep our honey bees healthy.

You can help

Pledge your support to Earthwatch Australia – and the bees – and donate now.

If you’d like to establish the entire program – in Melbourne, or across Australia – we’d welcome a confidential conversation about your philanthropic goals.

Call Earthwatch Australia’s Chief Development Officer, Fiona Sutton Wilson, on (03) 9016 7590 with any questions you may have.