Please help bumblebees!


Summer can be a quiet time for birders — could you be tempted to learn more about bumblebees? If not, why not? Can you spare a few minutes to tell the Bumblebee Conservation Trust about your values, interests and any barriers which they could help to remove? The Trust is nearly five years old and is building for the future — they would love to learn more about what is important to you, in terms of conservation work, habitats, activities and materials. Just a few minutes of your time could make a massive difference. Thank you!

In 1930 the UK was a very different place. Our hedgerows provided flowers, seeds and berries. Our traditional hay meadows and grasslands were a blaze of colour and alive with insects and birds. Today, of course, the picture is different, with birds and insects alike restricted to small fragments of high-quality habitat. Over 97% of those flower-rich meadows have disappeared. Hedgerows have been ripped up, and those that remain are often sterile. The challenges faced by bird conservationists overlap hugely with those of us who are also keen on invertebrates, with the ecosystem service provided by bees crucial to the birds that feed on the seeds, or which feed on the insects supported by the flower-rich habitats themselves. It is, of course, all interlinked. You have only to imagine Swallows hawking for insects over a wildflower meadow, with the backdrop of a distant Quail, to know exactly what I mean. There is also of course a significant aesthetic value to the colours and sounds for us humans, too.

Flower-rich meadow (BBCT Collection).

The vision of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, which we hope you share, is one in which our communities and countryside are rich in bumblebees and colourful flowers, supporting a diversity of wildlife and habitats for everyone to enjoy. We are nearly five years old, and what a busy five years it has been. We've achieved a lot in that short time, creating more than 1,500ha of flower-rich habitat, recruiting over 7,000 members to support the cause and raising national awareness of bumblebee declines. But we keen to do even more in the future, and crucially to reach and involve more people, whether through habitat creation, survey work or just at the basic level of appreciation. There is a lot about bumblebees to appreciate!

Birders are a key 'potential' audience for us — with their appreciation of the natural environment, interest in identification, and with the birding 'quiet' time during the summer months, just when bees are at their most active. We're keen to learn more about what birders value and to understand the current barriers that might prevent that 'first step' into the exciting world of bumblebees.

Bombus distinguendus or the Great Yellow Bumblebee (Dave Goulson).

At the present time we are planning for the next phase of our growth and development. It would be a huge help if you could spare a few minutes to fill in the online questionnaire (hosted securely with 'Survey Monkey'). This will not only give us a valuable insight into your perspective, but it will also (hopefully!) provide support for a number of the exciting initiatives that we have planned for 2012–2015, allowing us to refine these based on the feedback that you give us. The survey should only take around five to ten minutes of your time, and your help would be hugely appreciated. Many questions will not be relevant if you haven't previously encountered BBCT, but you can skip these and that will make the survey even quicker!

Bumblebee Conservation Trust
To give us your thoughts, please visit: www.surveymonkey.com/s/BBCT.

Thank you so much for your support — it is hugely appreciated.

For more information on the Bumblebee Conservation Trust please visit our website www.bumblebeeconservation.org

NOTE: Your personal data will not be passed on to any third parties, but a summary of all survey responses will be used in applications to grant-giving bodies.

Readers might be interested to read a previous BirdGuides article about bumblebees and how we can help to conserve these important insects.

Written by: Dr Ben Darvill, Bumblebee Conservation Trust