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

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Hairy-footed flower bee spotted north of the border

Bumblebee Conservation Trust member, Ken East from Edinburgh, has spotted a Hairy-footed flower bee (Anthophora plumipes) in his garden - the first sighting of this species in Scotland since 2013, and probably the most northerly record of this bee to date. Ken found the bee in his greenhouse before safely releasing her outside again, but not before taking a few photographs of his new visitor, of course.

Female Hairy-footed flower bee (Anthophora plumipes), photos taken by Ken East, April 2016.

Hairy-footed flower bees are one of the first solitary bee species to emerge, they are spring specialists and can often be seen visiting flowers like lungworts, primroses and dead-nettles. You could be forgiven for mistaking them for bumblebees as they are equipped with a similar fury coat to help them operate in cool spring temperatures. The females (as seen in Ken's photos above) look like little black bumblebees with golden coloured hairs on their hind legs, while the males, which can often be seen stalking females as they visit flowers, are much yellower in appearance.  One notable difference between Hairy-footed flower bees and bumblebees is the style of their flight - Hairy-footers have quite a fast, darting flight, while bumblebees have a slower, bumbling motion.

This year we have received lots of calls, emails and social media posts about Hairy-footed flower bees, which are quite a common species in the south of England and Wales, and seem to be becoming more abundant further north too.

You can find out more about Hairy-footed flower bees on the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society's website, where you can also submit a sighting to help map the distribution of this species.

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Interim CEO Announcement

Lucy Rothstein, who has been the CEO of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust for the last three years, will be leaving on 9 April 2016 to take up a position with a not-for-profit organisation and to pursue new ventures.  Lucy has played a vital role in growing the Trust and we appreciate all that she has achieved during her time as CEO.

The Board of Trustees of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust are pleased to announce the temporary appointment of Gill Perkins, currently Conservation Manager for the Trust, to the position of Interim Chief Executive Officer.

Professor Michael Usher, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, said, “Before making arrangements for a new CEO, it is vitally important for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust to have the highest quality leadership, someone who will be able to engage immediately with the tasks facing the conservation of the UK’s bumblebees. The Trust has moved from strength to strength over the past few years.  With Gill taking up the interim post, the board of trustees are confident of a smooth transition”.

Gill is an experienced leader who brings a broad range of skills acquired through her long career in business development, consultancy and practical conservation. 

Gill said, “I am very pleased to accept the board’s invitation to fulfil the role of Interim CEO and to have the opportunity to support the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. We have an experienced and dedicated management and staff team in place, who will be continuing to work together to deliver the Trust’s vision of countryside and communities rich in bumblebees and colourful wildflowers for everyone to enjoy”.

Gill is very much looking forward to continuing to work with the team of staff, trustees, volunteers and donors to safeguard the future of the nation’s bumblebees and to help save the sound of summer. 

The interim appointment starts with immediate effect and will continue until a new CEO is recruited.

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West Country Buzz: supporting farmers, wild pollinators, and farm wildlife

By Aoife O’Rourke, Conservation Officer (SW England)

Bumblebee Conservation Trust has been developing a project, West Country Buzz, in partnership with Natural England, and local NGOs in Devon, which aims to support farmers and help them to increase wild pollinators, farmland birds and wildlife on their farms via the Wild Pollinator and Farm Wildlife Package.

What is the Wild Pollinator and Farm Wildlife Package?

The Wild Pollinator and Farm Wildlife Package is a suite of options, which is part of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, designed to benefit wild pollinators, farmland birds, and other wildlife e.g. bats.  The package has been created to ensure that essential resources, such as food and shelter, are available all year round in the farmland landscape in order to support wildlife. For more information about the package, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/countryside-stewardship-manual

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Making a Buzz for the Coast – no whiling away the winter months in Kent

Whilst the winter months might be a quieter time for our bumblebees, for projects such as Making a Buzz for the Coast they are a great opportunity to firm up plans and get out and about to talk to as many people as possible as their thoughts start to turn to the year ahead.

Making a Buzz for the Coast is one of the Trust’s developing projects and focuses on strengthening and protecting our wild bee populations around 300 miles of Kent’s coastline, from Dartford to Rye.  In June 2015 this partnership project, which is being led by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, was awarded an initial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a year of development work. After a busy summer of surveying potential habitat sites around the coast, trialling approaches for teaching people how to identify some of Kent’s most special rare bee species and visiting local events to get people’s ideas for the project, the autumn and winter have been a great opportunity to develop plans in more detail.

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Bringing back a healthy buzz? Invertebrate parasites and reintroductions: a case study in bumblebees

The short-haired bumblebee project is pleased to announce its first scientific paper has been published in the journal Ecohealth. The paper discusses the risks associated with reintroductions and parasites and how this is managed for our reintroduction of Bombus subterraneus.  To enable us to reintroduce this species we first had to construct a disease risk analysis of potential bumblebee parasites. From this data we then wrote a disease risk management plan to cover all aspects of capture-quarantine-release that minimise the impacts on both the bumblebee and their natural parasites. The paper is authored by Prof Mark Brown (Royal Holloway University of London), Gavin Measures (Natural England), Dr Tony Sainsbury and Dr Rebecca Vaughan-Higgins (ZSL), Dr Catherine Jones (University of Leeds) and Dr Nikki Gammans (Bumblebee Conservation Trust).

Click here to read the full paper.