The Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Buglife have designated the National Trust’s Lytes Cary Manor and estate in Somerset as one of two exemplary sites in England for the endangered Shrill carder bee.
The award recognises almost a decade of work from National Trust volunteers, staff and farm tenants at the 146 hectare (361 acre) mixed farming estate.
The other site where the Shrill carder bee is doing well is the RSPB’s Rainham Marshes site in Essex.
The bumblebee is a priority species for conservation in England and Wales following significant declines since the 1950s. Once widespread across southern England and Welsh lowlands, with localised populations in central and northern England, the species is now nationally scarce with populations restricted to five isolated locations in southern England and south Wales.
Like many of our bumblebees, numbers of this small, straw coloured bumblebee with distinctive black stripes, have suffered due to the huge losses of flower rich habitats since the end of the second world war.
Shrill carder bee, queen by Daisy Headley
Sinead Lynch, Conservation Manager at the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, said: “With the National Trust being one of the largest landowners of flower-rich grasslands, its involvement is crucial for the conservation and recovery of the species.
“Choosing champion sites in our Back from the Brink Shrill carder bee project helps to highlight and celebrate where the species are doing well and gives us great case studies to help people to learn about the positive management of the species which in turn helps to secure its long term future.”
Mark Musgrave, the National Trust’s Lead Ranger at Lytes Cary Manor says: “The work we did with volunteers, included the planting out of hundreds of plugs of white dead nettle and comfrey by volunteers.
“We have been propagating white dead nettle as it’s an important nectar source for adult bees. Over the winter, our volunteer planted hundreds of white dead nettle and comfrey as well as a mixture of wildflowers from seed which will act as a wider source of nectar and pollen for foraging worker bees, including yellow rattle and black knapweed.
“We are looking at places where we can plant more comfrey, another fantastic nectar source, and will be protecting key sites with flowers known to be good for the bees.”
John Butler who has been a volunteer at Lytes Cary Manor since 2012 said: “It has been a fantastic project to be involved with. I really hope this work will inspire others to play their part.”