All about the bees blog

The views, opinions and positions expressed within this blog are those of the author alone. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors or omissions.


Calon Wen – the bees cheese!

By Sinead Lynch, Conservation Officer, Wales

In spring 2015, I was contacted by David Edge, Chairman of the Calon Wen organic dairy cooperative, who was interested in finding out if there were ways in which the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Calon Wen could work together to make their farms more bumblebee friendly. Cheese is one of my favourite things in the whole world, so I couldn’t resist!


The Scottish Pollinator Strategy

By Katy Malone, Conservation Officer, Scotland

“You voluble,
Vehement fellows
That play on your
Flying and
Musical cellos,
All goldenly
Girdled you
Serenade clover,
Each artist in
Bass but a
Bibulous rover!”

An excerpt from Bees – by Norman Rowland Gale


The trials and tribulations of managing urban grasslands for pollinators

By Sam Page, Project Development Manager – Making a Buzz for the Coast

I’m writing this blog from the train on my way back from an interesting day out in Bristol.  I’m not normally in that neck of the woods (it’s a bit of a trek from Brighton and Kent where I spend most of my time) – and I didn’t get to see much of Bristol itself – as I was there for a ‘Knowledge Exchange’ workshop on Managing urban grasslands for pollinators run by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and the University of Bristol as part of the National Pollinator Strategy.


The short-haired bumblebee project’s summary of 2015 and plans for 2016

By Nikki Gammans, Sub-T Project Manager

In May 2015 the project undertook its fourth trip to Sweden to collect emerging queens and then completed the release in June, after two weeks of quarantine. The project is now planning its fifth Swedish queen collection and release for 2016. This will mark the end of our first stage of releases. In 2016 we will focus on analysing the genetics of the workers. We will be attempting to obtain faecal samples of the workers by placing them in a sterile tube and waiting up to ten minutes until they defecate. The faecal sample can then be analysed for DNA and compared to the queens released in that year to determine whether they are workers from the year’s release, or previous years. We will review our aims for the project going forward ie do we need to complete more releases in South Kent to help establish a population, or would it be possible to extend the release to elsewhere in Kent.

Short-haired Bumblebee queen (Bombus subterraneus)








Short-haired bumblebee queen (Bombus subterraneus) in Sweden


Conclusions from the debate on neonicotinoids.

By Darryl Cox, Information Officer

Tuning in to the parliamentary debate was initially, for me, a frustrating experience. Lots of interrupted misinformed speeches, the passing on of birthday messages, poor bee jokes, and the usual misunderstanding about bees (it is clear that many people still do not realise that the honeybee is only one of the 276 bee species found in the UK); made it all rather painful to watch.

There were some positives though, I think. The fact that the debate took place and that it was so well attended shows how seriously MPs are taking this issue, even if admittedly some of their knowledge on the subject is very sketchy. It also means that people in the UK care a great deal about our pollinators and that lots of them successfully lobbied their MPs to represent their views, of which there was clear agreement from all sides that we should not take risks when it comes to exposing bees to pesticides.

Rather annoyingly, some MP’s fixated on the hope that science will one day reveal the one true cause of bee declines and that once we have discovered this, we will know what to do. For all those who think there is a quick-fix to bee declines, I must point out the hard truth, there is not a cause and effect relationship at play here. Scientific investigation has already revealed that there are multiple stressors which are all having an effect. Reduced flower availability in our intensively farmed landscapes, exposure to parasites and diseases, climate change, and pesticide exposure have all been found to play a role in bee declines, and it is these stressors in combination which are the problem. However, as MP Daniel Zeichner sensibly pointed out, of all the threats to bees, exposure to pesticides known to cause them harm, is one which we should and can tackle now, regardless of whether or not it is the main cause for decline.