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


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.


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 the New Forest in Hampshire. 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.


Bumblebee Conservation Trust launches BeeWalk

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust's national monitoring scheme, BeeWalk ,was officially launched in London this week.

The event was held at Roots and Shoots in Kennington and was attended by more than 30 people including BBCT staff, members and volunteers and representatives from other environmental groups including Plantlife, Buglife and RSPB.

BBCT chief executive Lucy Rothstein welcomed the guests and Professor Michael Usher, chairman of the board of trustees, gave an introduction to the world of bumblebees before David Perkins, who runs the Roots and Shoots environmental education programme, explained the work of his charity.

This was followed by a presentation by Dr Richard Comont, BBCT's data monitoring officer, on the importance of monitoring bumblebees throughout the UK in order to establish the abundance and distribution of the different species.


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.