Waitrose is aiming to boost bee-friendly plant sales by gathering data from consumers on the habits of bees in their gardens.
The retailer has developed a free ‘Bee-Friend Your Garden’ app and will encourage consumers to take a photo of insects on flowers and bushes in their gardens and to upload the images to a database.
The results will feed into a University of Sussex research project run in conjunction with The Crown Estate. Waitrose also intends to use the findings to tell shoppers which of the plants it sells are particularly bee-friendly.
Pollinating insects such as bees, birds, butterflies and moths were vital for food production but were increasingly under threat, Waitrose said. “Through this app, we’re aiming to significantly further influence this important issue, hopefully generating hundreds of thousands of insect observations to show which plants bees like to visit the most,” said Waitrose’s director of quality and technical, David Croft.
Waitrose had had a “strong and positive reaction” to its decision to stop using three types of neonicotinoid pesticides earlier this year, he added.
The free app was developed by Waitrose and environmental charity Earthwatch. It can be downloaded from www.waitrose.com/bees and is available for iOS and Android devices from today.
The project will run throughout the summer.
Yesterday, the retailer launched an online gardening channel fronted by Alan Titchmarsh.