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


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.


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.


City bumblebees more numerous than their country cousins

Children and their families involved in a new citizen science experiment observed more bumblebees in urban areas compared to suburban and rural settings.

EDF Energy’s Big Bumblebee Discovery, a nationwide citizen science experiment in partnership with the British Science Association (BSA), asked people to record bumblebee sightings on lavender plants.

Around 30,000 people took part in the project this summer, resulting in more than 4,000 bumblebee data entries from all across the UK.

In total, 27,000 individual bumblebees were reported and the data has been converted to a standard rate, based on counts of five minutes in an average-sized lavender plant.

The findings challenge the expectation that suburban areas are best because of the diversity of garden flowers. In otherwise hostile city habitats, flowers such as lavender represent ‘flower-rich oases’ and so can support large numbers of bumblebees.


Shrill carder week

Surveys carried out during Shrill carder week found three of these scarce bees in Pembrokeshire, Wales, but none in the Somerset Levels in the south west of England.

Two Shrill carder bees (Bombus sylvarum) were found at the Ministry of Defence’s Castlemartin Range - with ITV Wales on hand to record the find. Another was found at the National Trust’s Gupton Farm site.

While no Shrill carders were seen in Somerset, a good number of rare Moss carder bees (Bombus muscorum) were recorded during surveys of five areas around the Avalon Marshes Centre.

Moss carder bees were also spotted at the Gupton and Castlemartin Range sites, in addition to Brown-banded carder bees (Bombus humilis) and Broken-belted bumblebees (Bombus soroeensis), both of which were recorded at the latter site.


BBCT calls for a National Pollinator Strategy for Scotland

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT) today called on the Scottish Parliament to follow the lead of England and Wales in drawing up a National Pollinator Strategy. 

The call follows a debate about pollinators in the Scottish Parliament.

Chief Executive Lucy Rothstein welcomed the debate but said more needed to be done to preserve these important insects.

“We applaud the debate today but we are very concerned with the referendum coming up - and the changes which are likely either way - that this issue will fall off the table and not get addressed,” she said.

“It is essential Scotland looks at this and moves forward now with the development of its own pollinator strategy which addresses more than just honeybees and considers all pollinators, including bumblebees.”