Help Bumblebees this Spring

March 22nd, 2018

Happy little bumblebees were once a common summertime sight but thanks to enormous losses of habitats the bumblebees are fighting for survival. Find out how you can help the bumblebees this Spring.

The humble bumblebee is arguably one of Britain’s favourite insects; its fluffy, plump body, bright colours and contented buzz make these little creatures unusually endearing. So it’s no surprise that when the plight of the bumblebee was highlighted in the news recently, campaigns have taken off across the country to try and help save these lovely insects.

According to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, the main reason for the decline in our native bumblebees is loss of habitat. In the UK all of our native species of bumblebees are thought to have declined significantly in recent decades. We have even lost a species to extinction in the last 30 years, and even our most common species have declined dramatically.

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Flower Powers

The reason for this sharp decline in bumblebee species is because of a loss of habitat. Over the last seventy years or so much of the bumblebee’s natural habitats have been destroyed because of the expansion of agricultural and urban areas.

The UK has lost 98% of its wildflower meadows since 1930 and in addition, many other places where wildflowers are still common, like road verges and hedgerows, are often cut and “managed” in mid-summer.

Bumblebees get all their food from flowers – they are reliant of having a good source of flowers throughout spring, summer and early autumn. Flower-rich habitats like meadows are therefore really important. What bumblebees need is far more flowers and flower-rich habitats in our towns and countryside, say the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

 

Most people don’t realise that we would not have any tomatoes at all if it weren’t for bumblebees, because tomatoes are almost exclusively pollinated by them. And there are countless other examples. But it’s not just crops that require pollination, there are thousands of wild plants require insects for pollination. If it weren’t for bumblebees and other insect pollinators our countryside would look very different.

The plight of the bumblebee is very real, and very serious, but there are lots of things that you can do to help. Planting some bee friendly plants in your garden, or even in a window box, could make a big difference – there are many garden plants which bumblebees love to visit, including lavender, snapdragons, aquilegias, rosemary, chives, and sweet peas.

 

** The Bumblebee Conservation Trust was set up in 2006 in response to the plight of the bumblebee. It has quickly become a very active and influential conservation charity with over 16 members of staff, hundreds of volunteers, and thousands of members. In the last few years they have been able to deliver thousands of hectares of bumblebee habitat. They also hold many events – talks, walks, bumblebee identification training, displays, fairs and shows. A network of brilliant volunteers help with a huge range of vital work such as staffing events, raising money, monitoring bumblebee populations and much more. To find out more about becoming a volunteer for the Trust visit their website.

Bumblebee or Honeybee?

Bumblebees and honeybees are very often confused, and many people think they’re the same thing. Here’s our guide to the difference….

Honeys                                                                             Bumbles

Honeybees produce honey!                                           Bumbles produce nectar but not honey.

They live in hives and are usually domesticated.       Bumblebees are wild.

Honeybees have huge colonies of up to 50,000          Bumblebees live in small nests with just 50-400 workers.                                                                         workers.

Honeybees are the bees that ‘swarm’.                          Bumblebees do not swarm

Honeybees die when they sting                                      Bumblebees don’t die when they sting, although they are                                                                                                           reluctant to sting and only do so if provoked.

Honeybees are small and brown with a long and thin     Bumblebees big, round, furry and stripy bees.

body (similar to a wasp)

A whole colony of honeybees can survive a winter         A colony of bumblebees will all have died by the end of the                                                                                                        summer

 

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