The Bumblebee Conservation Trust is celebrating a successful conclusion to their three-year project, Bee Wild West Wales, thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Engagement through the project was delivered in two strands with ‘skills for bees’ and ‘buzzing communities’ benefiting a wide range of people living in deprived areas of west Wales.
An important hotspot for bumblebees, the project began with a buzz across Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire in 2016, to create good quality habitat and to raise awareness of the need to protect and create other areas of bee habitat.
Buzzing Communities was a positive step forward with the local people, with a ‘buzzing’ start to the project, including the development of Bee Friendly Community greenspaces at two sites in Ceredigion and two in Carmarthenshire. Working with local residents and other partners, volunteers installed a variety of bee friendly features such as native bulb planting, herb-filled containers and wild-flowering lawns.
Clare Flynn, the local Bumblebee Conservation Trust Outreach Officer said “the response to the project has been fantastic, especially with the community planting, and enabled us to deliver 26 bumblebee guided walks, improve public greenspaces, develop new educational resources for children, including 15 school visits – we have reached out to hundreds of people”.
Adam Pollard-Powell, Town Councillor for Neyland West in Pembrokeshire said “I attended an excellent Bee Wild West Wales event in Pembroke Dock on bumblebees hosted by the Trust and the Welsh Bee Friendly Scheme, and learnt a massive amount in a short time. Clare Flynn was a compelling speaker. Discussions afterwards inspired me to launch an application to the Welsh government’s bee friendly scheme for Neyland which we are now close to completing”
The ‘Skills for Bees’ also proved to be equally busy and very popular with excellent attendance at their bumblebee identification training days with over 60 people covering 30 different sites for the Trust’s national recording scheme BeeWalk. Volunteers were rewarded on one of the training days in Pembrokeshire, with a sighting of one of the UK’s rarest bumblebee, the Shrill carder bee (Bombus sylvarum).
The training days involved partnership with both individual landowners and organisations such as the National Trust, the Wildlife Trust, the National Park and the County Councils.
The Trust have not only raised the profile of the rich and wonderful bumblebee fauna in West Wales but very importantly left a legacy for communities and bumblebees with improved monitoring and conservation of these charismatic insects.