2017 Results Summary

BWS 2017 in Numbers

  • 2377 traps registered to take part in BWS 2017.
  • 1294 traps submitted their data
  • 559 traps contained social wasps
  • 6680 social wasps collected and identified

BWS team evaluation: The uptake was unprecedented and far beyond our wildest dreams! If you took part in 2017 – THANK YOU! You’ve contributed towards an incredibly comprehensive dataset on the diversity and distribution of social wasps in the UK. Replicated sampling in the same place year after year is incredibly valuable. If you didn’t take part in 2017, then please do register and put out a trap this year!

BWS 2017 Results Map


What did you catch?

Three species made up most of the wasps

BWS team evaluation: This is exactly what we’d expect: these are the three common species of social wasp that are still active at the end of August/early Sept. we also caught a few Vespula rufa and Dolichovespula media. But, importantly, we found no queens in our catch – confirming that the timing of our survey is optimal in capturing workers who will be naturally dying by the end of the month, and whose main job of rearing brood to pupation is over with; this means our survey is not depleting the sexuals who will form next year’s population of wasps


Where did you catch them?

Everywhere! Here are distribution maps for the three major species:

Vespula vulgaris
2942 Vespula vulgaris in 407 traps.
Vespula germanica
2974 Vespula germanica in 251 traps
Vespa crabro
395 Vespa crabro in 101 traps










BWS team evaluation: Wow – we were bowled over by the geographic spread of your sampling effort! We had traps from the top of Scotland, to the far reaches or Norfolk, Cornwall, Wales and Northern Ireland! Of course the sampling was biased to urban gardens, as we’d asked you to put traps in your garden! We’d like to broaden our sampling in 2018 to include the less urban areas. If you live near an open space, park or nature reserve, please do put up a trap (ask permission first) as well as your own back garden.


Are the data any good?


But we can’t tell you much more on the analysis right now, as the results are currently under peer-review at a scientific journal. Rest assured the data are fully analysed, and look very impressive!

BWS team evaluation: Although we can’t give you the juicy details yet, we can tell you that our analytical team (which included some very clever students and expert data analysts) are very happy with the results. As soon as we are able to, we’ll be posting the exciting analyses that show how robust and powerful the data from BWS are. We’ll also be submitting all the verified wasp identifications with locations and sample dates to the national database of Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Scheme (BWARS) so that other scientists can make use of these data for their own analyses.

Final verdict from BWS 2017 Team Evaluation

The launch of BWS in 2017 was a pilot study: these results have proved that citizen science data can be a powerful and robust tool for mapping species diversity and distributions, even for typically unpopular organisms, such as social wasps. If 2018 proves to have the same levels of participation by the public as 2017, then BWS is set on a promising trajectory as an annual public survey in the UK and further afield, providing us with critical data on an ecologically and economically important insect – the social wasp.

Big thanks to our data analysts Peggy Bevan and Dr Nick Isaac, for their analyses of the 2017 data. What’s posted here is just a taster – the full results are currently under preparation for publication in a scientific journal.  We’d also like to thank London’s Natural History Museum and UCL for hosting insect sorting events; and London Natural History Society members, especially John Lock; UCL students, especially Suzy Warnock for their sorting efforts.