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


All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015-2020 consultation

BBCT was pleased to contribute to the recent consultation stage of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015-2020.

This Plan has been developed by a 15 member steering group, representative of key stakeholders and provides an important framework to bring together pollinator initiatives across the island of Ireland.

The Plan proposes taking action across five areas:

  1. Making Ireland pollinator friendly (farmland, public land & private land)
  2. Raising awareness of pollinators and how to protect them
  3. Managed pollinators – supporting beekeepers
  4. Making sure we’re doing the right thing
  5. Collecting evidence to track change and measure success

To read our consultation response click here.

Further details about the Plan can be found here -


Bumblebees at risk from honeybee diseases

A new study, published in the Journal of Animal Ecology this week, has discovered a range of viruses in wild bumblebees which were previously thought to be restricted to honeybees.

Researchers found that diseases such as black queen cell virus, deformed wing virus, acute bee paralysis virus, slow bee paralysis virus and sacbrood virus, which were originally thought to only affect honeybees, and incidentally are all named after their effects in honeybees, also occur in wild bumblebees.

Some disease levels were much higher in bumblebees, which may suggest that those viruses may even rely on bumblebees to spread amongst other hosts. One of the researchers, Professor Mark Brown, from the School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway, University of London, said: “Our results confirm a recent review of potential threats to pollinators, indicating that so-called honey bee viruses are widespread in wild bees. It is imperative that we take the next step and identify how these viruses are transmitted among honeybees and wild bees, so that we can manage both to reduce their risk of disease.”

Previous research had highlighted that bumblebees can suffer from deformed wing virus, a notorious honeybee infliction – however these new findings reveal that virus spill-over between the species is much worse than first thought. It is thought one of the main methods of transfer is via contact with flowers which have been previously visited by disease carrying bees – although the researchers admit more work needs to be done to find out exactly how these viruses spread.

Chief Executive Officer of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Lucy Rothstein, supported the new research, saying, “We welcome the research carried out by Professor Mark Brown and his team at Royal Holloway, University of London.   Bumblebees are under threat from so many different factors – diseases in particular. Building our understanding about these diseases will play a fundamental role in helping us to find solutions to prevent further declines of these endearing and iconic insects. Bumblebees are vital for our food security and for creating beautiful landscapes for us to enjoy – which is why we have a vested interest in safeguarding their future and supporting research, and why our work creating and restoring bumblebee friendly habitat is more important than ever”.


Notes to Eds:


Interviews and bumblebee photos are available upon request.

•         The Bumblebee Conservation Trust was established in 2006 to address the worrying decline of the UK’s bumblebees.
•         During the last 70 years we have lost over 97% of flower rich meadows in the UK as a result of intensive agriculture and urban development which has left bumblebees with little to feed on.
•         Bumblebees are crucial to our food security and vital pollinators of everyday essentials such as apples, beans, tomatoes and peas.
•         Our vision is to ensure that our communities and countryside will be rich in bumblebees and colourful wildflowers, supporting a diversity of wildlife and habitats for everyone to enjoy.
•         The Bumblebee Conservation Trust pledge to support the conservation of all bumblebees, rare or abundant and to raise awareness and increase understanding about their social, economic, environmental and cultural benefits.


NERC video showcases bumblebee science at work

Last week, NERC (the Natural Environment Research Council) recognised and rewarded eight of its scientists for a range of work, which has achieved exceptional economic and social benefit both to the UK and internationally. As noted on our new page at the time, bumblebee scientist Dr Peter Graystock was one of these scientists and received £5000 prize money towards his future research.

A short film about Dr Graystock's research has now been released and can be viewed by clicking on the image below.

Dr Peter Graystock NERC video


Unique Chesterfield pollination conference launches Peak District campaign for bees

With concerns growing about the future of Britain’s bumblebees, a unique interactive Pollination Conference for all ages will be held in Chesterfield, Derbyshire on Thursday 30 April – exploring the beauty and importance of bees and pollinators, and launching a major Pollinating the Peak campaign by Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

The Chesterfield Pollination Conference – at the Winding Wheel Theatre, Holywell Street from 9am to 5pm – will allow people to learn more about pollination and how to help bees, including by managing gardens or land in a pollinator-friendly way. The event will feature two distinct elements – a conference and an exhibition. Places are free for both, but conference places are limited and need to be booked in advance.

Gill Perkins, Conservation Manager at Bumblebee Conservation Trust, said: “We want to inspire people across the Peak District and surrounding areas to learn more about bumblebees and pollinators, and how to help these wonderful insects – whether by creating habitat, monitoring their populations or other actions.”


Bumblebee brains affected by neonicotinoids

New research has emerged from the Universities of Dundee and St. Andrews which shows that accepted environmental levels of neonicotinoids impair bumblebee brain functionality and consequently negatively impact the performance of whole colonies.

The research, published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, is the first to demonstrate that the levels of neonicotinoids commonly found in the pollen and nectar of treated plants affect bumblebee brains. The results show that very low levels of neonicotinoids could cause up to a 55% reduction of living bees found in a colony and up to a 71% reduction in healthy brood cells.
On these findings one of the researchers Dr Chris Connolly said: “Our research demonstrates beyond doubt that the level of neonicotinoids generally accepted as the average level present in the wild causes brain dysfunction and colonies to perform poorly when consumed by bumblebees,” he said. “In fact, our research showed that the ability to perturb brain cells can be found at 1/5 to 1/10 of the levels that people think are present in the wild.