Nature Unlocked: Trees for bees

Find out how you can help pollinators on your next visit to Wakehurst.

Bumblebee pollinating a purple flower

Trees for bees is our citizen science project at Wakehurst. With your help, we can find out what trees pollinators like best and how to make our cities more pollinator-friendly.

We often think of insects buzzing around our flower beds or meadows, but pollen and nectar also come from trees, which only have a tiny footprint in our landscapes. Whether insect-pollinated or wind-pollinated, flowering or cone-bearing, trees are key to lots of species.

Trees for bees aims to identify which trees at Wakehurst are most effective for supporting diverse populations of bees and other insects, like wasps, butterflies and moths. Whilst there have been many studies over the years focusing on pollinators, very few have looked at the value of trees within pollinator communities.  

We need you your help

We would like to find out what our pollinators are foraging at Wakehurst. But we can’t do this alone – we need your help! 

We have created walks around the gardens through a variety of different habitats, trees and shrubs. Your job is to take photos of pollinators visiting our selected trees, and any flowers along the way. All these photos provide data which is essential for our scientists’ work. 

By taking part in our project, you'll become a citizen scientist, helping us find solutions to environmental challenges. 

The study will also consider which trees are most effective at reducing the impact of heavy rainfall and pollution, promoting human wellbeing and biodiversity, keeping cities cooler, providing shade and supplying vital resources for insects that are not pollinators. 

We're looking to plant the best trees for bees, that are also suitable for a changing climate, in our urban areas.

A bumble bee on a flower
Bumblebee, Seb Kettley © RBG Kew

How to get involved

The Trees for bees project is open to anyone and everyone who wants to take part. All you need is a smartphone, or a worksheet and pencil.

When you arrive at Wakehurst, pick up a citizen science guide from the Visitor Centre. You'll find instructions on how to start monitoring pollinators in the landscape and submit your photos, alongside route maps and a pollinator ID guide. 

At the Visitor Centre, you can also pick up our worksheet – which can be used by itself or along with your phone – to help you record the pollinators you see. 

Thank you for taking part in the Trees for bees project. Every photo helps!

Running from July to September 2023 and March to September 2024 – don't miss out.