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

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Bumblebees unknowingly poisoning their broods

Bumblebees fail to recognise some toxins in lupins and other flowers they visit for nectar and pollen - unwittingly weakening or even killing their broods, according to new research published by the University of Greenwich.

The university’s chemical ecology research group says more work is needed to discover if this previously unknown problem is affecting other pollinators such as honeybees.

Professor Phil Stevenson and Research Fellow Dr Sarah Arnold, of the university’s Natural Resources Institute (NRI), used insectories - a suite of temperature-controlled rooms which are home to insects, such as bumblebees, mosquitoes and grain storage pests - to explore the chemicals produced by plants, examining their ecological roles and any effects they have on visiting pollinators.

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Solar parks help save bumblebees

Solarcentury and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT) are partnering to promote the use of solar parks in alleviating the plight of the bumblebee. 

The partnership will promote the development of bee-friendly environments by creating bio-diverse spaces in and around solar parks developed by Solarcentury.

In the last 100 years, bumblebee populations have crashed, with two species becoming extinct in the UK.  Solar parks are ideal environments for bee habitats because they can support a range of attractive micro-habitats. The variety of dry and wet,  shaded and sunny areas, if properly planted and managed, can encourage a much wider variety of fauna than improved grassland.

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Bumblebee survey calls for more volunteers

Do you know your Broken-belted from your Gypsy cuckoo?

Bumblebee enthusiasts are being asked to take part in the most high-tech survey of the species ever carried out in the UK.

Photos of bumblebees are  identified using a ground-breaking online ‘crowdsourcing’ technique - where a positive ID is reached when several members of the public allocate it to the same species.

More than 9,000 photos have already been submitted as part of the BeeWatch project which is coordinated by the University of Aberdeen’s dot.rural team and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT).

Those behind the survey are calling for more volunteers to send in and identify photos and have made it easier than ever before with the launch of a new online training tool which teaches novices how to identify bumblebees.

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Bumblebee-friendly quarries

A joint project between the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and the Mineral Products Association will see quarries established as flower-rich habitats for wildlife.

The two organisations signed a memorandum of understanding in November 2012 and since then have been working together to meet their joint aims including the protection, creation and restoration of flower-rich habitats as well as extending the knowledge of those working on quarries about bumblebees in particular, and wildlife generally.

BBCT has visited five quarries - all very different and requiring different approaches. However, they have learnt through their visits that quarries can be surprisingly useful places for wildlife. The process often allows wildflowers to thrive, and pollinating insects like bumblebees can be abundant. There are many different habitats on quarries too and each one can be managed sensitively for bees.

During 2013, the Conservation Team put together a Quarry fact sheet to go with BBCT’s other factsheets entitled: ‘Managing your land for…….’. 

BBCT are also working with RESTORE to share their knowledge and hopefully make more gains for wildlife and bumblebees.

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Tree bumblebees buck the general trend

Amid concerns about population declines in many of our bee species, Tree bumblebees are bucking the trend by branching out further across the country.

Originally from mainland Europe, the Tree bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum) was first seen in the UK in 2001, when it was spotted in Wiltshire. Since then it has spread rapidly and is now present in most of England and Wales.

It reached southern Scotland last year with the first recorded sighting in East Dunbartonshire in June 2013.

New sightings this year show this distinctive species - with its reddish brown thorax, black abdomen and white tail - has now spread eastwards across Scotland into Edinburgh and East Lothian.

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