Category Archives: Pollinators

Rare bumblebee population discovered in Wales

A Bumblebee Conservation Trust report:-

“A population of the very rarely sighted Ruderal bumblebee (Bombus ruderatus) was discovered in Wales this week by staff from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

The Ruderal bumblebee is one of our largest bumblebee species, and is thought to be largely restricted to the south of England, after a considerable decline through the 20th century.

Earlier this week two staff from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust found a number of newly emerged Ruderal bumblebee queens foraging on foxglove near Brechfa in central Carmarthenshire…. “

https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/rare-bumblebee-population-discovered-in-wales/

Glyphosate weedkiller damages wild bee colonies, study reveals

The Guardian newspaper reports:- “The critical ability of wild bumblebees to keep their colonies at the right temperature is seriously damaged by the weedkiller glyphosate, research has revealed.

Glyphosate is the most widely used pesticide in history, intended to kill only plants. The harm to bumblebees – vital pollinators – was not identified in regulatory risk assessments, which only test whether a pesticide rapidly kills healthy, individual bees. However, the collective failure to regulate colony temperature could have a massive impact on its ability to produce the next generation, the scientists said….”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/02/glyphosate-weedkiller-damages-wild-bumblebee-colonies

Why do we need insects?

  1. To pollinate 87% of plants. 75% crops need insect pollination.
  2. Recycle dung, leaves, corpses.
  3. Keep soils healthy.
  4. Control pests, though they can also be pests.
  5. Food for larger animals eg. fish. Crickets are 12 times more efficient than cows in converting vegetation into digestible body mass, produce little or no methane and use 55 times less water.
  6. Insects are in all food chains.

Problems –

German nature reserve studies – over 27 years the insect biomass has dropped by 75%. Forest and grassland had a 40% drop over 10 years.
UK butterflies – over 41 years a 46% drop in common species numbers. 77% drop in rare species numbers.
US studies – 70% drop in insectivorous birds in 20 years.

Source:- Dave Goulson “Silent Earth” 2021

Widespread continued use of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides

“Countries across Europe are exploiting a loophole to allow widespread continued use of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides, two years after the EU introduced a landmark ban on their use.

The EU agreed a ban on all outdoor uses of the neonicotinoid insecticides clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam on 27 April 2018, in order to protect bees.

However, an Unearthed investigation has found that in the two years since the ban was agreed, EU countries have issued at least 67 different “emergency authorisations” for outdoor use of these chemicals…”

https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2020/07/08/bees-neonicotinoids-bayer-syngenta-eu-ban-loophole/

Moths have ‘secret role’ as crucial pollinators

BBC Report:-   “Dr Walton from University College London and colleagues monitored moth activity around ponds in agricultural areas of Norfolk.

They found that 45% of the moths they tested were transporting pollen, which originated from 47 different plant species, including several that were rarely visited by bees, hoverflies and butterflies.

The scientists found that while bumblebees and honeybees are critically important, they tended to target the most prolific nectar and pollen sources. Not so with moths.

“From what we see from our work, moths tend to be generalists, meaning they’re not specifically visiting a narrow group of flowers,” said Dr Walton. … ”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-52630991

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsbl.2019.0877

Plant nurseries are in trouble – how to help

Wildlife Gardening Forum have posted the following message on their facebook page:-

Nurseries supplying garden plants are in trouble due to shopping restrictions on our daily life, and that they may have have to dispose of their spring stock. At this time, as long as these nurseries are abiding by Public Health England rules, then it’s good to support them. Many have lost their key routes to market via garden centres and UK horticulture is starting to suffer. We want these places to be there for our pollinators when this has ended!

We’re therefore starting this thread for anyone to share details of the who is doing what and where, ie still operational and available to order from. Please keep coming back to this post and update as the situation progresses, and if you are a nursery owner, please feel free to add a link to your nursery here. To find this post, go to:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/wildlife.gardening.forum/permalink/1142801456067480/

Testing products which help (?) bees

Bees and wildlife are much in the public eye these days, with frequent media reports of declines.  In the UK, for example, approximately 70% of the land area is used for agriculture. Clearly, helping wildlife at a national level requires agricultural land to play a major role and there are various encouragements for this, with funding opportunities like the Countryside Stewardship scheme (Supplement 1) (244 separate grants including for ‘badger gates’, ‘beetle banks’, and ‘autumn sown bumble bee mix’) and advice and support from organisations such as LEAF (Supplement 2) (Linking Environment and Farming).

What can the general public do?  A plethora of products such as nest boxes, feeding stations and wildlife friendly seeds are available to purchase on-line and in garden centres.  Internet shopping websites such as Amazon UK list over 10,000 products for bees in their Garden and Outdoors section.

Here we take a close look at a number of these products which are specifically designed to help bees and other insects: bee hotels, bee bricks, bee and butterfly seed balls, and ladybird and butterfly houses. Our investigation uses a number of approaches, including expert responses and scientific research results….

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0005772X.2019.1702271

Cambridge College lawn becomes a wildflower meadow

A famous University of Cambridge view is set for a change as a pristine lawn maintained for centuries is transformed into a wildflower meadow.

King’s College Chapel and its sloping lawn down to the River Cam have become one of the city’s best-known images.  It is popular with tourists, featuring in thousands of Instagram posts, and is widely used to promote the city.

Head gardener Steve Coghill said it was hoped the meadow would bloom in May and create a “biodiversity-rich ecosystem”….

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-51179488

Too many honey bees threaten wild bee numbers

Come springtime the Brussels region’s environment agency Bruxelles Environnement will take up the beehives it manages at nature sites in Brussels, and remove them permanently.

The move forms part of a plan by the region to tackle the recent huge growth in members of the public keeping bees – a trend inspired by concerns about pollution, climate and biodiversity. Bees have become something of a mascot for this movement, in part because they are an excellent barometer of environmental conditions, and in part because of their crucial role in maintaining biodiversity.

But it’s possible to have too much biodiversity, and the honey bee – a variety essentially created by Man for Man – now represents a threat to its wild cousin….

https://www.brusselstimes.com/brussels-2/90095/brussels-wants-to-stop-unfettered-growth-in-beehives-wild-honey-biodiversity-hives-pollution-climate-apiarist/