Animal Friends Blog
Why we need to save the sound of summer…
To most people, bees are instantly recognisable but there are distinct differences between the appearance and lives of honey bees, bumblebees and solitary bees. In the UK we have over 250 species of bee – and only one of those is the honeybee. We have 25 species of bumblebee and the rest are solitary bees.
We rely on bumblebees to pollinate many of our everyday favourite food such as strawberries, raspberries, apples and tomatoes. Sadly though, bumblebee numbers are in decline. Since WW2, the UK has lost over 97 percent of its wildflower meadows, leaving bumblebees hungry and homeless. In the last 80 years, two species of bumblebee have become extinct and there are declines in several of our other rare species such as the Shrill carder bee and the Great Yellow bumblebee.
The role of the trust
The Bumblebee Conservation Trust is a national charity based in locations around the UK, set-up twelve years ago to halt and reverse the worrying decline of these precious pollinators. The Trust is a small independent charity which relies on the generous support of the public.
The Trust’s team of conservationists and dedicated volunteers are creating and restoring bumblebee-friendly habitat across the UK, providing land management advice to farmers and landowners and raising awareness with local communities and schools about the importance of bumblebees.
Bumblebees are fascinating creatures. Many people confuse bumblebees with wasps or honeybees. However, unlike the honeybee, bumblebees will never interrupt your picnic! they do not swarm, and are not aggressive! Bumblebees are wild creatures that live in nests and are not managed in hives like their honey bee cousins and are generally fatter and furrier in appearance with a deeper buzz.
Some species of bumblebees are now much more numerous in urban and suburban gardens than they are in the wider countryside because gardeners are growing plants bees can feed on. In contrast, much of the countryside is now devoid of bee-friendly flowers.
Bumblebees are amazing insects and very efficient at their job – they have smelly feet and effectively leave little smelly messages behind once they have visited a flower, which helps other bumblebees to avoid wasting energy landing where there is little nectar or pollen.
How to help the Bumblebee
With bumblebee season between March and October, bumblebees need feeding throughout this period with a variety of bee-friendly flowers. Bee-friendly flowers are those that are rich in pollen and nectar. There are hundreds of beautiful flowers that offer these rewards. Examples include lavender and borage.
Please help us continue to add much-needed flowers to our landscape, and carry out the conservation and science needed to halt and reverse the decline in bumblebees.
There are lots of ways you can get involved and find out more about the charismatic bumblebee and the charity’s serious concerns about the ‘plight of the bumblebee’ at www.bumblebeeconservation.org.
The Bumblebee Conservation Trust has been nominated for the Animal Friends 100k Charity Giveaway. Winning this would help the trust continue their vital work towards halting and reversing the decline of the population of this essential ecological contributor. Save the sound of summer and vote for The Bumblebee Conservation Trust.
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