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Parasites fail to halt European bumblebee invasion of the UK

A species of bee from Europe has been found to have stronger resistance to parasite infections than native bumblebees - allowing it to spread across the UK.

Tree bumblebees, which arrived in the UK from continental Europe 13 years ago,  have spread rapidly despite carrying high levels of an infection that normally prevents queen bees from producing colonies according to research by scientists at Royal Holloway, University of London.

The study, Parasites and genetic diversity in an invasive bumblebee, was published today in the Journal of Animal Ecology. It found Tree bumblebees (Bombus hypnorum) have spread at an average rate of nearly 4,500 square miles – about half the size of Wales – every year.

Researchers collected Tree bumblebee queens from the wild, checked them for parasites and then monitored colony development in a laboratory. Despite the bees having low genetic diversity and high levels of a nematode parasite that usually castrates other species, 25 per cent of the queens were able to produce offspring. 

Scientists believe the spread of tree bumblebees could have both positive and negative impacts on native bees.

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Short-haired bumblebee nests in the UK for the first time in 25 years

The Short-haired bumblebee reintroduction project has been boosted by the discovery of several worker bees, following the introduction of 50 queens of that species earlier this year.

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Birds helping bees

Chippindale Foods Limited (CFL) and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT) are partnering to help halt the decline of Britain’s bumblebees.   The partnership will develop bee-friendly habitats on Chippindale’s farms throughout Yorkshire and the north east of England.

Chippendale Foods Limited

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Solar parks helping to save the declining British bumblebee

Solarcentury and Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT) are partnering to promote the use of solar parks in alleviating the plight of the bumblebee, which has declined dramatically.  The partnership will promote the development of bee-friendly environments by creating bio-diverse spaces in and around the solar parks Solarcentury has developed.

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 and shaded and sunny areas, if properly planted and managed, can encourage a much wider variety of fauna than improved grassland.

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Oh là là – bumblebee with a French accent arrives in Scotland

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT) office was a-buzz with excitement last week when one of its members reported a Tree bumblebee sighting in Lennoxtown, East Dunbartonshire.

Since the Trust’s partners at Aberdeen University announced on the Beechgrove Garden that this bumbleee was likely to cross the border into Scotland, the charity has received a number of records of possible sightings. However, all had turned out to be the Common carder bumblebee.

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