Bumblebees are endearing and familiar insects. Their animated behaviour and deep buzz as they fly from flower to flower makes them a delight to watch.
Sadly though, our bumblebees have been declining because of changes in agricultural practises that have largely removed flowers from the landscape, leaving the bumblebees with little to feed upon. Most UK species have declined greatly in recent years, and two have become extinct in the UK since 1940.
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Where do bumblebees occur?
There are around 250 species of bumblebee in the world, and most of these are found in the northern hemisphere, although South America has a few native species, and New Zealand has some which were introduced from Britain.
In the UK there are 24 species of bumblebee but only eight are commonly found in most places. Bumblebees are found in a variety of habitats and most people should be able to attract them to their gardens if they have the right kinds of flowering plants.
Some species are less common and are only found in a few locations. For example, the Great yellow bumblebee is now only found on the north coast and some islands of Scotland. This species previously had a wide distribution throughout the UK, but habitat degradation has seen its numbers decline dramatically in most places.
“Few people realise just how important bumblebees are. They are charming little things and a pleasure to see, but they also do an essential job which many people take for granted. If bumblebees continue to decline then we face ecological turmoil. Join BBCT today and support their important work.”
Naturalist, Television presenter
and BBCT President