Common carder bee (Bombus pascorum)
© Roger Key
Gardening for bumblebees
Gardens aren't just a place for enjoying a barbecue or hanging out the washing. They can also be mini nature reserves supporting an incredible array of wildlife. Bumblebees in particular rely upon garden flowers as a source of nectar and pollen. But how many bumblebees are found in the average garden? And which flowers do they prefer?
To answer these and other questions Buglife has developed the Big Garden Bumblebee survey to encourage people to look for bumblebees in their garden, and then submitting their sightings. Using your records we will be able to create maps showing the distribution of bumblebee species across the UK. We will also get a better idea of which flowers bumblebees prefer to use.
Bumblebee populations are in crisis
White-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lucorum)
© Denis Greenough
There are 26 native species of bumblebees in Britain, of which 15 have undergone major declines, 3 species are extinct nationally and a further 5 are UK Biodiversity Action Plan species. The decline in bumblebees is resulting in sweeping changes to our countryside, with many rare plant species disappearing.
Gardens have become central to the survival of bumblebees. UK gardens cover about 270,000 hectares - that's more than all the designated National Nature Reserves combined.
Threats faced by gardens include use of pesticides, planting of non-native flowers and decking for amenity use.
The main theme of this project is that any garden, either public or private, can help to save endangered species. Buglife will encourage individuals to view their gardens as nature reserves on their doorsteps.
The project takes a holistic approach clearly linking the role invertebrates play in pollination. Bumblebees are vital pollinators of many of our native wildflowers, and of crops such as beans, apples and raspberries – the economic value of insect pollination has been estimated at £500 million per year. Those taking part will be given advice and support on how to improve their garden for bumblebees.
For further information on the project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
To read about our Big Bumblebee Hunt project that took place in London and Essex in 2007, please click here