Searching for Scabious

(c) Liam Olds

Research has shown that many pollinating insects have experienced a decline in recent years, with wild bees (bumblebees and solitary bees) showing among the most severe declines of any UK pollinator. To be able to effectively prevent further declines and extinctions among wild bees, and to restore sustainable populations in our countryside, more detailed data on the distribution and conservation status of our species is required.

The Searching for Scabious project, funded by the People’s Postcode Lottery, aims to improve our understanding of the distribution and conservation status of some of Wales’ rarest and most threatened solitary bees – the Large Scabious Mining Bee (Andrena hattorfiana) and its associated cuckoo, the Armed nomad bee (Nomada armata), and Small Scabious Mining Bee (Andrena marginata) and its cuckoo, the Silver-sided nomad bee (Nomada argentata). These species, all of which are associated with scabious-rich habitats, have declined either as a result of the loss of suitable grasslands supporting their food plants, or as a consequence of poor grassland management (e.g. overgrazing, poorly-timed grass cutting).

Would you like to know more about solitary bees in Wales?  As part of our project we have been running on-line bee identification workshops, click on the video above to take part.

Small Scabious Mining Bee (Andrena marginata) © Liam Olds

The Searching for Scabious project runs from 1st July 2020 to 31st November 2020. Through the project, targeted surveys will be undertaken at known and historic sites for these bees across south Wales, as well as at sites supporting suitable habitat. This will provide us with up-to-date species records and distributional data to inform management on the ground and improve the prospects of these threatened wild bees. Training workshops will also provide volunteers with the skills, knowledge and confidence to identify these bees, bringing them closer to the nature on their doorstep while making a valuable contribution to species conservation. Habitat management advice given to landowners will further help to improve the landscape for these rare bees, helping to restore and connect habitat, boosting populations.

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