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Stay up to date with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s latest news and happenings right here.

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Bumblebee researcher finalist in NERC Impact Awards 2015

A researcher looking at the diseases affecting bumblebees has been made a finalist in NERC's Impact Awards.

PhD research by Dr Peter Graystock at the University of Leeds, now based at the University of Bristol, in partnership with The Bumblebee Conservation Trust found that commercially-reared bumblebees were infected with a number of different parasites upon arrival in the UK. These parasites can be passed on to native populations of bumblebee and even other bee species. In response to Graystock’s findings, Natural England has tightened its regulations and now requires breeders and suppliers to carry out improved screening procedures, covering a greater number of parasites, before bumblebees can be imported into the UK. They are currently consulting on a proposed ban on imports of all non-native species. Meanwhile, Norway has banned bumblebee imports outright, until suppliers can prove their bees are no longer infected.

The awards intend to recognise and reward the contribution of NERC science to the UK’s economy, society, wellbeing and international reputation. The winners will be announced at a prize-giving ceremony in London on 27 January 2015. The applications show the excellence of UK science and its impact, as well as demonstrating the breadth of the contribution environmental science – and scientists – make to the UK’s prosperity

Well done to Peter!

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Bumblebee Conservation Trust welcomes the launch of the National Pollinator Strategy for England

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT) welcomes the launch today of the National Pollinator Strategy for England having spent many months working closely with Defra, Friends of the Earth, researchers, scientists and other NGOs on its development.

Lucy Rothstein, Chief Executive of Bumblebee Conservation Trust comments: “The Government’s National Pollinator Strategy highlights the need to improve and increase habitat for vital pollinators such as bumblebees. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust is set to play an important role working with more landowners, local authorities, businesses and the general public to create areas for our pollinators to live and feed. We fully support the Government’s call for action and urge people to get involved”.

Bumblebees have been in long term decline for several decades now – one of the main reasons being the loss of our wildflower-rich habitats. Two species of bumblebee have become extinct during this time and there is now an urgent need to stop any further extinctions. These precious creatures not only pollinate wildflowers but many of our fruit and vegetable crops – apples, strawberries, peas and tomatoes.  Ensuring their long term survival is therefore critical for crop pollination as well. 

BBCT has been closely involved in the development of the Strategy and is especially pleased to see that the final document contains two amendments based on the Trust’s consultation response:

• an emphasis on working with local authorities to create habitat for pollinators; and
• more stringent monitoring of imported bumblebees used for commercial purposes.

BBCT is already active in both of these areas and in a recent survey of local authorities found that 63% of those responding had introduced a variety of strategies to encourage pollinators: from the management of cutting regimes and grass verges to planting schemes with wildflowers or cultivated plants. BBCT will continue to expand its work in this area and would encourage anyone with an interest in approaching their local authority about bee-friendly planting to download its Local Authority Pack for guidance (click here to download pdf).

BBCT would now like to see the Scottish Parliament follow the lead of England and Wales in drawing up a National Pollinator Strategy for Scotland. 

- Ends -

For more information or interview opportunities please contact media@bumblebeeconservation.org

Notes to Eds:

About Bumblebee Conservation Trust

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust is a UK based charity that was established because of serious concerns about the ‘plight of the bumblebee’. In the last 80 years bumblebee populations have crashed and two species have become extinct in the UK, although the Short-haired bumblebee is currently the subject of a reintroduction project – see www.bumblebeereintroduction.org for more information. 

Many of the remaining species have declined in their geographical range and abundance, including two species listed as ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN’s 2013 European regional assessment. BBCT is addressing these concerns with a mixture of direct conservation measures and advice to businesses, farmers, landowners and the general public; scientific monitoring (BBCT runs the only British standardised survey of bumblebee abundance and distribution); and public outreach (aimed at raising public awareness of, and engagement with, bumblebee species).

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University of Sussex appeals for citizen scientists to help study pesticides

Do you own a solitary bee home that looks like this? University scientists need your help.

                 

Scientists at the University of Sussex are studying the effects of a group of insecticides known as neonicotinoids on solitary bees and need help from the public. So that a range of areas across the UK can be tested, the researchers are asking people to donate a tube or two from their solitary bee homes, so they can sample the nests for pesticide residues.

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BBCT’s response to consultation on amendments to bumblebee imports

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust has responded to Natural England's Consultation on amendments to the licencing regime for the release of non-native bumblebees for research and crop pollination.

Bumblebee colonies are imported to the UK for the pollination of crops such as tomatoes, strawberries and other fruits grown inside polytunnels. The bumblebees used are a species native to the UK (the Buff-tailed bumblebee, Bombus terrestris). In the UK we have a subspecies called 'Bombus terrestris audax' that is native to the UK, and has lived and evolved here for thousands of years.  It differs from the mainland European subspecies, which is called 'Bombus terrestris dalmatinus'. Because the UK is an island nation, these two subspecies will have been separated for thousands of years, and the bees in the UK have evolved separately and are likely to have some traits that have allowed them to adapt to the climate and environment in the UK.

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Spring bumblebees bounce back

Early-emerging bumblebees have had a bumper year with warm dry weather between April and June helping to boost their populations.

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT) has recorded nearly double the number of Early bumblebees (Bombus pratorum) and Tree bumblebees (Bombus hypnorum) this year - compared to the same period in 2013 - through its national monitoring scheme BeeWalk.

Both species were abundant in the spring months, bouncing back impressively from the cold, wet springs of 2012 and 2013.

It was a particularly good year for the Tree bumblebee, which came to the UK from mainland Europe in 2001. Since the first recorded sighting in the New Forest in Hampshire, the species has spread to most of England and Wales and has continued to move north into Scotland with new sightings in East Lothian and Stirlingshire this year.  In total it has been seen more than 1,100 times this year on BeeWalk surveys, compared to 700 times in 2013, and has also been found in huge numbers in gardens.

The Early bumblebee has increased from 1000 individuals last year to 1900 this year.

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