West Country Buzz

West Country Buzz covers the whole of the North Devon coast, and focuses on two of the rarest bees in the county; the Brown-banded carder bee (Bombus humilis) and the Moss carder bee (Bombus muscorum). Once widespread in Devon, these nationally declining species are now restricted to fragmented parts of the North Devon coastline.

We are working in partnership with landowners, farmers and volunteers to survey and monitor bumblebees and create joined up flower-rich habitat. West Country Buzz is a front-runner project, piloting Defra’s Nature Recovery Network initiative. We are working to restore these bumblebee species that we have largely lost from our countryside.

The project has three main aims:
1. Survey and monitor: establish the abundance and distribution of bumblebees, with a focus on S41 species
2. Provide advice and support: raise awareness of what pollinators need to survive and thrive, with landowners, farmers, and the general public
3. Habitat management: increase the area of suitable habitat and habitat connectivity around existing populations of target species.

Bumblebees are very under-recorded in Devon. We plan to recruit and train volunteers in the area and are encouraging people to get involved and submit their sightings via iRecord (for casual records such as your garden), and to take part in regular surveying by signing up to BeeWalk. This data helps us target our conservation work, and understand how both rare and common species of bumblebee are doing.

The project will provide free, bespoke advice to landowners, farmers, holiday parks, golf courses, small holders and large estates to increase the amount of bumblebee-friendly habitat and to join it up at a landscape scale. The target bumblebees are in decline in the area largely due to a lack of flower-rich habitat, and habitat fragmentation. We are helping to create more habitat by working with landowners to make changes to management, such as changing the grazing regime to rotational grazing which promotes more flowering, or controlling bracken to allow space for wildflowers to come back. We are also helping to create new meadows, and are supporting our volunteers to establish wildflowers in their local green spaces.

Results are already being delivered, including helping to set up new BeeWalks across North Devon to monitor bumblebees; raising awareness through walks, talks and other events; and helping to create wildflower habitat on road verges, grasslands and holiday parks.

This is a collaborative project, with more than twenty partners to deliver the project’s aims. An example, is the National Trust at Woolacombe, who have adopted the BeeWalk scheme to monitor their sites and measure habitat management changes and creating flower-rich habitat through scrub clearance and wildflower sowing. Natural England advisors have been supporting our advisory work to farmers and landowners. The Devon Wildlife Trust have helped us to source seed of local provenance. Our ever-growing and enthusiastic team of partners, farmers, small holders and volunteers have been instrumental in the project’s success.

Further reading material

Partners and collaborators

Natural England, North Devon AONB, DWT, RSPB, Torridge Council, Ruda Holiday Park, The Pickwell Foundation, FWAG SW, Tarka Country Trust, North Devon Biosphere, University of Plymouth, DBRC, Braunton Countryside Centre, Mid Devon Natural History Society, Brandis Corner Wildlife Group, Devon Local Nature Partnership.

Funding

West Country Buzz has received funding from Natural England, Prince of Wales Charitable Foundation, and The Dulverton Trust. We would also like to thank the following funders who generously contributed to the project: Yeo Valley, John Lewis Partnership, Anson Charitable Trust and Naturesave Trust.

Get involved

Please check our Volunteering Opportunities page for details of how to get involved with this project.

For more information, or to arrange a farm visit please contact cathy.horsley@bumblebeeconservation.org

Alternatively, you can follow the project on Twitter @BuzzingDevon

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