The Oriental Hornet (bagħal taż-żunżan) continues to pose challenges for beekeepers, but a groundbreaking solution is now putting the power of technology and citizen engagement to work. Individuals can now step into the role of citizen scientists, promptly reporting hornet sightings and nest locations, thanks to the innovative “HornetPlot” app developed by Steve Zerafa, a partner in The Foundation for Innovation and Research – Malta and the leader of the BeePOLL project.
The recent article by TVM News features the”HornetPlot” app andemphasises the significance of this initiation in addressing the Oriental Hornet challenge.
Reports of hornet sightings and nests are channeled through the “HornetPlot” app, a key component of a comprehensive project aimed at comprehending the distribution and population dynamics of wild bees and honey bees across Malta. The app allows users to map occurrences of wasps and hornets, enabling quick identification of potential hotspots and the implementation of necessary precautions. Furthermore, the app offers valuable insights and practical advice to help users mitigate potential risks and safely manage nest removal.
Beyond its impact on honey bees, Malta is home to a diverse range of bee species – a total of 105 – that play a vital role in pollinating crops and wild grass. The BeePOLL project seeks to investigate bee distribution and population dynamics. This comprehensive endeavour aims to pinpoint the locations of various pollinator species, analyse population fluctuations, and understand the environmental factors influencing bee presence.
The innovative “HornetPlot” app stands as a testament to the power of citizen science and technological innovation. Through collaborative efforts, the app’s data is collected and stored in an online database, enabling both hornet identification and the generation of a nationwide overview of hornet sightings. Zerafa’s technological ingenuity doesn’t stop there – he’s also leading efforts to employ satellite images and drones to track shifts in the Maltese landscape across seasons and regions, aiding the study of bee distribution and population trends.
The Malta Beekeepers Association has thrown its support behind the BeePOLL project, recognizing the potential impact of data-driven solutions. President Jorge Spiteri highlights the importance of collecting comprehensive statistics to effectively address the Oriental Hornet challenge. Spiteri envisions a future where a dedicated freephone service provides nest control assistance based on reported sightings, further reinforcing the collaborative approach fostered by the BeePOLL project.
As the BeePOLL project continues to unfold, it serves as a beacon of hope, uniting technology, community engagement, and scientific expertise to safeguard Malta’s vital pollinators.
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