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A conservation strategy for the Shrill carder bee

A decade-long conservation strategy developed in collaboration with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and partners dedicated to safeguarding the rare Shrill carder bumblebee.

A close-up of a Shrill carder bumblebee feeding on a purple flower.
A Shrill-carder bumblebee feeding on a pale purple flower.

Pieter Haringsma

The Shrill carder bee (Bombus sylvarum) is one of the rarest and most threatened bumblebee species in England and Wales. Known for its distinctive high-pitched buzz, it now only exists in five isolated population areas. In England, these are in the Thames Estuary and Somerset; in Wales, these are in the Gwent Levels, Kenfig–Port Talbot, and south Pembrokeshire. In at least two of these population areas, numbers are worryingly low and appear to be declining. These small number of surviving populations makes the Shrill carder bee vulnerable to inbreeding and loss of genetic diversity, further increasing the risk of local extinctions.

Loss and fragmentation of habitat is a key threat isolating Shrill carder bee populations in England and Wales. The Shrill carder bee requires conservation efforts at a landscape-scale and can be a flagship species for the restoration of a network of connected flower-rich habitats.

Following on from a hugely successful partnership project for the Shrill carder bee which concluded in March 2020, it was recognised there was an urgent need for a coordinated and strategic approach to ensure the survival of this rare bee.

A 10 year ‘Conservation Strategy for the Shrill carder bee’ was launched in July 2020. This national strategy has been developed by a wide range of stakeholders including NGOs, academic institutions, government bodies and land managers. The delivery of the strategy is led by a steering group partnership including the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Buglife, Bees, Wasps & Ants Recording Society, Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru/Natural Resources Wales, the RSPB, and Natural England. The planning process included the development of a comprehensive species knowledge review. Both the strategy and knowledge review are available via the links below.

Through delivery of the strategy, the Trust with partners and stakeholders will increase habitat, connectivity, evidence data and have an increased understanding of the needs of this bumblebee.

A close-up of a Shrill carder bumblebee feeding on a purple flower.


This strategy has been developed as part of the Back from the Brink partnership programme, made possible thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Thank you to the Strategy Steering Group members BWARS, Buglife, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Natural Resources Wales, RSPB and Natural England.


The project is funded by Neal’s Yard Remedies and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

Further information

For more information about the project, please email the Shrill Carder Bee Species Recovery Manager at