Category Archives: Pollinators

Can you add your dots for pollinators to B-Lines?

From the Monmouthshire Meadows newsletter. www.monmouthshiremeadows.org.uk

“Pollinators, other insects and the wildlife that depends on them need connected flower-rich habitats to feed, breed and thrive.

We’ve been asked if we can help Bug Life with their ambitious B-Lines project. The aim is to establish a 3km wide, mapped, insect superhighway across UK towns and countryside with north-south and east-west highways in each county. In the countryside this can include wildflower-rich meadows, scrub mosaics, species-rich hedgerows, wetlands, heathland and native woodland. In more built-up environments it may include pollinator friendly and chemical free gardens, ponds, parks, window boxes, green roofs or living walls.  Over 2,500 dots have been added to the B-Lines map by individuals, businesses, local authorities, farmers and more, with over 3,500 hectares of wildflower habitat work completed, but they need more to achieve their ambitious aim.  
 
Anyone who has enhanced or created habitat for pollinators can add their site to the map, to identify existing corridors and show areas where there is a potential to join sites. At MMG we have added our reserves, and I’ve added our home fields to the map. It is already starting to show a number of dots around Monmouthshire. It would give Bug Life a boost if we were able to add some more.  “

Here’s the link to information and the option to add your site on the interactive map
https://www.buglife.org.uk/our-work/b-lines/

The Importance of Pollinators

Buglife says “One out of every three mouthfuls of our food depends on pollinators. It is almost impossible to over-emphasise the importance of the service pollinators perform for us.

Many plants rely on insects to pollinate their flowers and so complete their reproductive cycle – most plants cannot set seed without being pollinated (receiving the pollen, usually from another flower). Without bees, hoverflies and other insects visiting flowers, there would be no strawberries, apples, avocados, chocolate, cherries, olives, blueberries, carrots, grapes, pumpkins, pears, plums or peanuts…. And very few flowers in our gardens and countryside.

It is estimated that 84% of EU crops (valued at £12.6 billion) and 80% of wildflowers rely on insect pollination…”

https://www.buglife.org.uk/bugs/featured-bugs/pollinators/

B-Lines


B-Lines are a UK-wide network of wildflower rich areas for insects and other wildlife. They are being developed by Buglife –

www.buglife.org.uk

New B-Lines are being created in Newport (and Neath Port-Talbot) and there are existing routes though all of Monmouthshire. Pollinators will benefit, including rare species such as the Shrill Carder bee and Long-horned bee which can be found in Monmouthshire.

Silent Earth the Insect Apocalypse

“Silent Earth: Averting the Insect Apocalypse” Dave Goulson, Aug 2021

In this book Professor Goulson examines the dramatic decline in insects, the vital services they perform, the potential causes and possible solutions.
Insects pollinate three quarters of our crops, recycle dung, leaves and corpses, keep the soil healthy and control pests. Birds and fish rely on insects for food. We cannot function without them yet their decline is estimated as 75% in the past 50 years.
A study of nature reserves in Germany from 1989 to 2016 recorded a 75% fall in weight of insects caught in traps. A 10 year grasslands study showed an average two-thirds loss of weight in the insects, spiders, woodlice etc. Common UK butterfly abundance fell by 46% in 40 years.
There is little worldwide systematic monitoring of insects but the decline of insect eating birds shows the trend. North American insect eating birds have declined by 40% in 47 years with swallows and swifts numbers falling by 70% in 20 years. Similar declines are shown in the very limited studies from Africa, Asia and South America. At what point will there be a catastrophic failure in our environment?
The book reviews causes of the insect decline, habitat loss and fragmentation, pesticides and herbicides, farming practices and climate change. Agricultural change is required to manage these problems plus a change in Western life style and eating choices. This book makes a major contribution to raising awareness.

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/