New book hopes to help save the UK’s bumblebees

A new book hopes to raise public awareness of the plight of the bumblebees, a group of beneficial insects which have suffered huge declines through both historic and ongoing large-scale changes to the way the countryside is managed.

There are more than 250 species of bee in Britain: 24 different bumblebee species, 1 honeybee, and around 225 solitary bee species. Two bumblebee species went extinct in the UK during the 20th century, with a further eight currently endangered. Current research* by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT) has identified that numbers are continuing to fall.

‘Bumblebees – an introduction’, a new book written by Trust staff, hopes to address this by raising awareness of the threat to these beautiful, charismatic insects, helping the public spot the rarer ones and encouraging gardeners to plant flowers which will attract them to their gardens. Published on the 9th April, it’s the first book by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and is deliberately aimed at bee-loving beginners. Each species has an in-depth detailed descriptions of key features, possible confusion with other species and ecology.

It’s no exaggeration to say that, if we don’t do something to help them, we will continue to lose our wild bees. Several species are in dramatic decline including the Shrill carder bee, restricted to small pockets in the UK, and the Great Yellow bumblebee, only rarely seen in the far north and west of Scotland.

The book launch is part of a wider campaign to raise awareness of the bumblebees’ plight, which also includes two fundraising events in Somerset and London.

The book can be ordered here.

Lead editor, Dr Nikki Gammans, Project Manager for the Short-haired bumblebee Reintroduction project said: “This is the only current comprehensive guide to cover bumblebees at a beginner’s level. It’s a must for anyone interested in learning more about bumblebees as well as for the existing naturalist. It’s written in straightforward English, so everything you need to know about bumblebees is in one place: ecology, life cycle, declines, ways to help, and the identification of all 24 UK species.

“There is no other entry-level bumblebee book on the market which covers ecology, life cycle and identification altogether. This book will take you from knowing virtually nothing about bumblebees to being able to identify pretty much all of them – it’s accessible to all.”

Gill Perkins, CEO of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, said: “Bumblebees are extraordinary creatures and to inspire enthusiasm for them across generations was a challenge the Bumblebee Conservation Trust embraced: the result is this remarkable and rewarding book.

“It has beautiful pictures, makes identification easy, and all of those who have contributed to this book have combined the best of both writing and science. ‘Bumblebees – an introduction’ will serve as a model for good bumblebee knowledge and identification’ across all age groups.”

*Reference: the 2017 BBCT annual BeeWalk report. (2018 report due to be published later this month.)

The book can be ordered here.

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