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

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Public urged to help support our bees’ needs

Five simple actions to help pollinators such as planting more bee-friendly flowers and cutting grass less often were promoted today to protect the vital contribution these insects make to our economy.

The five actions form part of a call to action launched by Environment Minister Lord de Mauley today at the Plant Life Conference, attended by HRH the Prince of Wales, to encourage people to do their bit to help insects such bees and butterflies.

Pollinators provide variety in our diets and some crops, like raspberries, apples and pears, particularly need insect pollination to produce good yields of high quality fruit.

Research has estimated the value of insect pollination to crops at around £400 million due to increases in yield and quality of seeds and fruit.

Lord de Mauley said:

“Pollinators such as bees are vital to the environment and the economy and I want to make sure that we do all we can to safeguard them.
“That’s why we are encouraging everyone to take a few simple actions and play their part in helping protect our bees and butterflies. We will be publishing a nationwide strategy for pollinators later this year to set out everything that we can do to help pollinators flourish.”

Whether people live in a town or in the countryside, they are being urged to help create or improve a habitat for pollinators in five simple ways:

1.      Grow more nectar and pollen-rich flowers, shrubs and trees
2.      Leave patches of land to grow wild
3.      Cut grass less often
4.      Avoid disturbing or destroying nesting or hibernating insects
5.      Think carefully about whether to use pesticides

More information on how to go about putting these into action is available on the Bees' Needs website. Have a look at the video below to find out more about the problems facing bees and how you can help them

The five simple actions were drawn up with experts from Natural England, the Food and Environment Research Agency, conservation charities and the research community. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust has played a key role as a partner in the development of these actions, and fully supports them. Our CEO Lucy Rothstein, who has spent time working on the development of the National Pollinator Strategy, says “This marks a huge step change in recognising the value bumblebees and other pollinators play in our daily lives and we are delighted to be collaborating with so many organisations to raise awareness and support action on the ground”.

There are at least 1500 species of insect pollinators in the UK. This includes 26 species of bumble bee, 260 solitary bees, 1 honey bee species and hundreds of types of hoverflies, butterflies and moths.

Defra will be publishing a national strategy for pollinators in the Autumn, following a public consultation earlier this year.

 

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Johnsons flower seed sales give big boost to bumblebees

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT) has once again benefited from sales of a dedicated seed mixture produced by Johnsons.  For every packet of its Mixed Bumblebee Friendly Flowers seed purchased in the last year, 25p was pledged to the BBCT.

The BBCT's conservation manager Gill Perkins was recently presented with a cheque for £3288 by Helen Clayton of Johnsons.  She said she was pleased to acknowledge the support of Johnsons' customers.  "Their support helps in our twin aims of conservation and education.  Britain’s bees are in trouble and urgently need flowers that are rich in pollen and nectar to sustain their populations.  Nurseries and seed producers are in the front line regarding plants essential for pollen and nectar.  Johnsons Seeds is helping BBCT realise our vision, that one day our communities and countryside will be rich in colourful, useful flowers for pollinators, by changing the way we think about what we buy and grow in our gardens.", she said.

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Bumblebee Conservation Trust unveils Strategic Plan 2014-2015

We are delighted to make public our new Strategic Plan for 2014-2019. This Plan looks at where we are at the moment, and describes where we would like to be in five years' time.

The BBCT is one of the youngest conservation charities operating nationally across the UK. We have come a long way in our first eight years and have raised an impressive £2 million towards bumblebee conservation. At the time of writing this strategy, our turnover has just exceeded £600k per annum, supporting the work of 16 staff and the contribution of more than 500 volunteers. We also have 8,000 members whose support plays an essential role in enabling us to deliver our charitable objectives.

Looking to our future, we have defined our aims and, describes how we will achieve them, and how we will measure our progress.

In particular, the Plan introduces our new strategic aims, which are to:

  •  Support the conservation of all bumblebees, rare or abundant;
  • Raise awareness and increase understanding about bumblebees and the social, economic, environmental and cultural benefits which they and other pollinators provide; and
  • Ensure BBCT is sustainable, fit for purpose, and able to respond quickly to challenges and change.

To read the new BBCT Strategic Plan 2014-2015, click here.

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Bee foraging is impaired by pesticide exposure

Long term exposure to a neonicotinoid pesticide damages bees' ability to forage for pollen – and may be changing their choices of which flowers to visit – according to new research published today.

The research, conducted at Royal Holloway University of London, monitored bee activity using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags similar to those used by courier firms to track parcels.

The study,  which was published in the British Ecological Society's journal Functional Ecology, found that long-term pesticide exposure can affect individual bees' day-to-day behaviour.

Dr Richard Gill (now at Imperial College London) and Professor Nigel Raine (currently at University of Guelph in Ontario) measured the impact of two pesticides, a neonicotinoid (imidacloprid) and a pyrethroid (lambda cyhalothrin), either singly or in combination, on the behaviour of individual bumblebees from 40 colonies over a four-week period.

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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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