Pollinator Count

Bees and flies humming in the air, butterflies and moths gracefully fluttering by and beetles soaring and landing heavily on leaves. The abundance of insects in your outdoor spaces are a clear indicator of the health of your habitats. Insects come in the most incredible array of colours, patterns, shapes and sizes, and have fascinating and bizarre lifestyles. There is no end to the stories you can share with young people about what the insects at your setting are getting up to.

Start this journey into the exploration of insect lives with the Pollinator Count survey. This is a timed count of insects that visit the flowers in your outdoor spaces. The data will show you how many and what types of insects are visiting your site to forage for food (with some pollinating the flowers when they visit), and which types of plants are most supportive to different insect groups. Your learners can use this information to identify where and what improvements they can make to the site, and use the information to research and tell stories about the insect antics at your setting.

Collectively, this information can tell us a lot about how much wildlife your educational setting is supporting.  At the Natural History Museum, researcher Dr. Victoria Burton will be analysing this information to assess the health of pollinators across the Nature Park and to explore which habitats and flowers offer the most nutrition. 

This activity page is for the KS2-5 version of the Pollinator Count activity.  The EYFS & KS1 version is currently in development. 

Getting to know your space

Recording change

~ 1 hour


Complete the Mapping your site activity before you do the Pollinator Count survey. 

Carry out this survey between 1st April and 30th September when the weather is mild, dry and not too windy. The survey can be carried out again and again, to build your dataset, or explore different parts of your site.

We suggest you schedule two sessions, ideally in the same week, so that if weather conditions are not right on the first session, you can use that time to practice insect identification instead.  If you manage the Pollinator Count on the first session, you can either repeat the survey, or carry out a data analysis session afterwards.

For the Pollinator Count you will need:  

  • Flowering plants on your site
  • 50cm x 50cm quadrats (home-made or shop bought)  
  • Mobile devices with the Pollinator Count survey open (access via activity button above) or cameras
  • Printed recording sheet or survey form, and insect guide  
  • Clipboards
  • Pencils 
  • Stopwatches or timers 

Step by step

  1. Introduce the activity to your group and briefly practice insect identification
  2. Review the habitat map of your setting and decide where you will carry out the Pollinator Counts. The Educators’ Guidance document sets out options for this, such as comparing different habitats or comparing an experimental area with a control.
  3. Get outside with your learners and place 50cm x 50cm quadrats over patches of flowers in the chosen habitats, with a maximum of three young people per quadrat.  
  4. Distribute the digital devices with the Pollinator Count survey open and ask the young people to work through the following steps.
  5. Check their location is correct on the map in the survey.  
  6. Select which type of habitat they are in, from a drop-down list.
  7. Pick one type of flower in the quadrat as the ‘chosen flower’ type to watch for insect visitors. Take some photographs of the flowers, using the app.  
  8. Answer questions about the date and time.
  9. Start a timer for 10 minutes (5 minutes if you prefer) and record how many of each type of insect LANDS on the ‘chosen flowers’, using the Insect Recording Sheet. At the end of the set time total the tallies and add the numbers to the survey.
  10. Answer questions about the weather, including the temperature.
  11. Have a go at identifying the ‘chosen flower’.
  12. Record the quantity and coverage of the ‘chosen flower’ and any other flowers.
  13. Complete the insect identification challenge, if there is time. This simple activity allows researcher Victoria to account for different levels of data accuracy when analysing the results.  

Pollinator Count Unplugged

If you are not using the digital survey, follow the steps above but ask students to work through the paper Pollinator Count survey form instead. It contains all the same questions. Towards the end of your lesson, head to a computer to upload the survey results and photos at the activity button above. 


Ask learners to review the total number of insects they recorded, and the different types, and invite them to discuss which flowers / parts of the site had the most insects and why they think that might be.


Data collected in this activity supports the national Pollinator Monitoring Scheme.

FIT Count Logo


Thumbnail image: Image submitted by Hob Green Primary School to the Habitat Heroes Activity