The Bumblebee Conservation Trust was established in 2006 because of the serious concerns about the ‘plight of the bumblebee.’ We run science, conservation and awareness raising projects, encouraging our supporters to help increase the number and distribution of our valuable bumblebees and are now involved in twelve regionally focused projects across the UK. Each project aims to inspire and educate local people to understand about the importance of bumblebees and give them the knowledge, skills and confidence to make a difference in their local community for pollinators.
Are bumblebees important?
Yes, they are! Gardeners have long known about the importance of bumblebees for pollination. These wild bees are iconic, charismatic and captivating insects and provide a vital “free-bee” role in pollinating much of the food on our plates, garden and wildflowers as well as fruits and seeds for birds and small mammals. They act as a useful and powerful indicator of the health of our environment but their numbers and distribution are declining.
There are 24 species of bumblebee in the UK, representing approximately 10% of the world’s bumblebee species. In the last 100 years, 2 species have become extinct and 8 of our remaining species are in serious decline, including the rare and bee-utiful Great Yellow bumblebee which was once common but is now only found in the far north of Scotland.
These declines are mainly due to the loss of 97% of lowland wildflower meadows to intensive agriculture and urban development since the 1930’s. All bumblebees need are flowers to provide nectar for energy and pollen for protein.
We can ‘bee the change’
Here are a few micro-actions that anyone can do to help us save the sound of summer:
- Plant bee-friendly flowers! For suggestions, look at our Gardening for bumblebees webpage.
- When it comes to pollinators every little can help - so if you don’t have a garden with lots of space, then a window box, a balcony or a well-stocked plant pot (flowering culinary herbs are excellent forage) could give that bumblebee the boost of energy they need.
- Don’t cut the grass more than a couple of times during the growing season and wait for lawn wildflower bumblebee favourites like birdsfoot trefoil, clover and dandelions to finish flowering.
- Think carefully about using pesticides
- Learn to recognise the different species on our website, or download our free ‘What’s that bumblebee?’ app about our 8 most common species (on Apple and android phones and tablets). You can even have a virtual bumblebee into your room with the 3D augmented reality feature.
- Become a member of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and get regular updates on our work plus much more.
- Bumblebees need more people to tell us which species and how many they see during bumblebee season. BeeWalk (www.beewalk.org.uk) is a national monitoring scheme which collects bumblebee data from across the UK and we gather this data by recruiting and training volunteer “BeeWalkers”.
Bee safe and thanks for reading.
Tessa Brooks Bumblebee Conservation Trust.