Bumblebee Bounces Back

Updated: Jun 22, 2020

Endangered bumblebee sees population bounce back thanks to the revival of lost flower meadows by the National Trust, working in tandem with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.


The shrill carder bee flitted dangerously close to extinction, as 97 per cent of its habitat has been lost in the last 70 years, but its population has bounced back at a country manor thanks to the National Trust creating flower meadows.


Carder bees, which are worth over £400m to the UK farming industry because of their pollinating power, thrive in flower-rich meadows, which have made way for agricultural fields and home building in recent decades.


Once widespread, they are now limited to five small areas in the UK. The National Trust decided to help bring the bees back from the brink of extinction and created habitats for the insect at one of its sites.


While the loss of flower meadows impacts all bee populations, carder bees are particularly impacted, as they do not travel far from the nest. This means they need long-flowering vegetation close by as well as an undisturbed nest site.


The National Trust’s Lytes Cary Manor and estate in Somerset has been designated as one of two exemplary sites in England for the endangered Shrill carder bee; the other site where the bee is doing well is the RSPB’s Rainham Marshes site in Essex.


Sinead Lynch, Conservation Manager at the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, said: “With the National Trust being one of the largest landowners of flower-rich grasslands, its involvement is crucial for the conservation and recovery of the species.”


Mark Musgrave, the National Trust’s Lead Ranger at Lytes Cary Manor added: “We have been propagating white dead nettle as it’s an important nectar source for adult bees. Over the winter our volunteer planted hundreds of white dead nettle and comfrey as well as a mixture of wildflowers from seed which will act as a wider source of nectar and pollen for foraging worker bees, including yellow rattle and black knapweed."