Bumblebee blog

Here you will find informal updates on our projects, top tips from our staff and volunteers on how to support bumblebees and interesting guest articles from our partners. Use the category buttons to filter the blog articles by topic.

Brown-banded carder and Moss carder bees in North Devon

by Patrick Saunders

Patrick Saunders (Kernow Ecology) conducted a field survey commissioned by BBCT’s West Country Buzz Project in summer 2018. This was to assess the current status and conservation requirements of Brown-banded Carder bee and Moss Carder bee in North Devon, in partnership with other West Country Buzz project surveys.

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Brilliant BeeWalk!

This month’s blog comes from two of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s enthusiastic and much appreciated BeeWalkers and volunteers, Margaret and Lily Alston.

As volunteers for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, this will be the third year we have taken part in their BeeWalk monitoring scheme.

At least once a month, we equip ourselves with recording sheet, magnifying glass, comfy clothes and of course a picnic lunch, then set off on our ‘walk’. This ‘walk’ is called a ‘transect’ which is a route through the Rock Garden, starting at Bridge Street, going through the top part of the garden, on to the Nature Reserve, then back along the front of the garden, ending back where we started. It is important, as this is a scientific study, to always walk exactly the same route! We also try to go on a sunny and relatively calm day….ideal conditions for our bumblebee friends! Read More

Bees on strike

Last month, on our social media channels, we showcased what life might be like if pollinators decided to down their tools and stop working. #BeesOnStrike aimed to get people thinking about what life would be like without our most loyal insect civil servants, and what we can all do to improve their working conditions. Hopefully the message got through – our lives would change immeasurably for the worse without them and it is in all of our best interests to do something to help them.

Imagine if every single person decided to do even just one small good deed for the creatures which contribute so much to our lives.

If you are looking for ideas about how you can help, here are a few to get you started:
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Industrial-scale wildflower seeding for Great yellows

For the last couple of years, we’ve been working with Scottish and Southern Energy Electricity Networks (SSEN) and its contractor Balfour Beatty at three new substation sites in Caithness. The substations are needed to carry the huge amounts of power generated from the recent upsurge in the renewable sector in Caithness, and also to replace aging plant. Balfour Beatty contracted an Environmental Consultant, Angus Spirit (Envirassist) to make recommendations and write a plan for the environmental improvement of the site after the substations had been built. Angus contacted me in 2015 as he thought the site could have significant biodiversity benefit for bumblebees and wanted to see if there was anything I could recommend. In particular, could these huge construction sites be made attractive to Great yellow bumblebees?

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West Country Buzz update

The West Country Buzz (WCB) project, now in its second year, is working with landowners around the south west to support pollinator-friendly land management.

It’s been a busy few months, and things are set to get busier now that applications are open for the Countryside Stewardship scheme. WCB is helping farmers through the application process, selecting the best options for supporting pollinators in the countryside. This includes creating flower-rich margins, reducing grazing pressure to allow pasture to flower, and managing hedgerows to encourage plants to flower and to provide nesting space. The majority of the time spent on the project is in providing landowner advice on how to encourage pollinators, either through tweaks to current management and voluntary measures, or through Countryside Stewardship.

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Citizen Science

By Helen Dickinson, Surveys & GIS Officer

There has been a ‘buzz’ around the words citizen science for quite some time and the involvement of members of the public in scientific monitoring and research is increasingly relevant in a world with increasing demands for data around the continued loss of biodiversity. Citizen science is an incredibly important way individuals can contribute to conservation in the UK and across the globe. The large quantity of data required to get a good understanding of what’s happening to our habitats and species is something that we need as many people as possible out recording.

There is an ever growing number of ways that people can get involved in citizen science biological recording: from seaweed searches to ladybird counts, to bat roost monitoring and commitments from one off, to monthly, to annually, means that the range of schemes available provides something for everyone. See detailed list of surveys.

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Fundraising: A Bumblebod’s Story

Every year we are all totally astounded by the remarkable lengths people push themselves to in order to raise money to help bumblebees, so when our colleague, Claire, suggested this year (the Trust’s 10th anniversary year) was the ideal time for us to get involved and challenge ourselves to raise some money for bumblebees too – we thought we owed it to all of the amazing fundraisers to give it a go. Before we knew it Claire had enlisted us to join her fundraising efforts and run the Breathing Space 10K in Callander – dressed as bumblebees! She quickly set up a Just Giving fundraising page for team Bumblebods and donations started rolling in. We set a target to try and raise £500 on behalf of the Trust; an amount we agreed would be amazing to be able to raise to help bumblebees.

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Calon Wen – the bees cheese!

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!

Calon Wen is a Welsh co-operative of dairy farmers. Its name means white (wen) heart (calon). The co-operative was established by a group of farmers who wanted to sell milk to local people; today Calon Wen sources its milk from 20 members in north and south-west Wales.

Ten of the members are in south-west Wales, which is an area where I spend a great deal of time working to conserve rare bumblebees. We agreed that I should visit six Calon Wen farms in west Wales during the summer of 2015 to survey the bees and habitats, gain an understanding of the way the farms are managed, and then report back with my findings and some suggestions for how the farms could be made more bumblebee-friendly.

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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.

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