Community support

Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000

Description

“Have you heard about Bombus distinguendus, the Great yellow bumblebee?” I ask people. It is a very distinctive bumblebee with a yellow bottom! We used to find them all over the UK – but they have declined massively. I have to be careful not to alarm people.

They are considered by some to be the most endangered bumblebee species in the UK, only found in a few clusters in the remote north and west of Scotland just like in Caithness, the most northerly mainland county in the UK.

It is just the same for many other bumblebee species. Currently, the UK has 24 species of bumblebee, some common and some very scarce. Two went extinct during the 20th century, one of which we are trying to reintroduce.

I do have to make people aware that, mostly due to loss of habitat and urban development bumblebees are in decline. It’s serious!

Bumblebees are one of the best pollinators, most simply because they have that big fluffy coat. Did you know that 1 in every 3 mouthfuls of food you eat has been pollinated by a bee or similar pollinating insect? That’s a lot of our food!

So no bees means no food!

To help protect bumblebees, we need to know where they are. Can you help us find and count them?

Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT) run a national bumblebee monitoring scheme, BeeWalk (www.beewalk.org.uk), to gain an accurate understanding of current bumblebee populations and distributions. This is the only abundance-based monitoring scheme in Britain of a major pollinating group, and the only way that we have of detecting population declines before it’s too late to reverse them.

We do this by recruiting and training volunteers, BeeWalkers. Volunteers are trained in bumblebee identification at three levels; basic, intermediate and for the enthusiastic, advanced level. They are also shown how to set up a BeeWalk and monitor bumblebees in their local community, walking the same fixed route (a transect), at least once a month from March to October.

“I always have something to talk about and have made lots of friends in the process of BeeWalking. I get introduced as "The bumblebee lady" and people ask my advice about plants for their gardens, etc. I am pleased to have a hobby that is worthwhile and allows me to learn more at my own pace.” BBCT volunteer

There are some key areas of the UK where we need to recruit and train more volunteers. By 2019 we want to reach our target of 500 active BeeWalkers and 500 transects across the UK, so during 2018 we are would like to deliver a programme of eleven training events in the Outer Hebrides focusing on the islands of Lewis, Harris, North & South Uist, Barra and Eriksay.

We plan to deliver a festival of bees and wildflowers to recruit local people, young or old, from the local communities to become the next generation of entomologists (someone who studies insects to you and me). Our Conservation Officers will help them set up BeeWalk transects on the islands and give the volunteers the support they need to make it a success.

So please vote, please join us and our BeeWalkers, let’s see if we can recruit and train more volunteers to find where our UK bumblebees are and save our “yellow bottomed” friend, the Great yellow bumblebee?"

Bumblebee Conservation Trust

Location: Outer Hebrides, United Kingdom

“It’s amazing to see the dedication and commitment of our BeeWalk volunteers support the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in its work to halt and reverse the decline of this iconic, charismatic British insect, the bumblebee.”
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