Members of the public are being urged to photograph bees and send the data to scientists via a new smartphone app as part of a national drive to help protect pollinating insects.

The citizen science project is backed by supermarket chain Waitrose, which has worked with environment charity Earthwatch to develop the free app, through which smartphone users can help collect data about the bees, beetles, hoverflies and other pollinating insects in their gardens and which plants they prefer to visit the most.

The data will be fed in to a University of Sussex research project – funded by the crown estate – which aims to create a more detailed national picture on pollinator activity and help secure a future for bees by understanding better the plants and flowers that encourage them into our gardens.