Waitrose hopes to help protect bees in the future through the app

Waitrose has launched a free app for smartphones to involve its customers in the future protection of bees.

The project aims to get people taking photos of bees visiting plants and flowers in their garden and uploading them via the app, which can be found at waitrose.com/bees. The photos upload directly to a research database which will be used by the University of Sussex to establish which plants are most bee-friendly.

Rob Collins, retail director at Waitrose said: “We've had a really strong reaction to the app so far, with more than 1,000 people downloading it in the first couple of days alone. Throughout the summer we hope to gather hundreds of thousands of observations to help with this important research project.”

The health of bees has been debated heavily in recent months with three neonicotinoid pesticides, deemed to have a harmful impact on the health of vital pollinators, were recently banned throughout Europe. Meanwhile, US grocer Whole Foods recently published a photo of an empty fresh produce aisle in one of its stores to highlight the negative impact of a lack of pollinators on fruit and vegetable production.

The British Beekeepers' Association estimates that the number of bee colonies in Britain fell by 16 per cent last year, while 40 per cent of all food consumed by humans is currently dependent on bee pollination.