Bumblebee Conservation Trust visit offers management advice to support threatened species in Somerset

shrill carder bee cropOver twenty people started off a 2 day visit by Bumblebee Conservation Trust by attending a workshop at Ham Hill on Tuesday 30 April and Wednesday 1 May.

Jo Chesworth from Bumblebee Conservation Trust visited South Somerset District Council to cover a range of topics from bumblebee ecology, how we can manage our land to support species and how to identify different bumblebee species.

Attendees from local parish councils, National Trust properties, local landowners and the SSDC rangers team were present for the talks Jo gave and now everyone has a much better awareness of how to manage their land or gardens to support these threatened insects and hopefully an increased knowledge from the Bee Walks to better focus conservation attention where it is most needed.

Bumblebees are facing pressures from habitat loss and agricultural intensification. Therefore sites like Ham Hill, Chard Reservoir and Yeovil Country Park are important and provide important nesting and foraging areas for a diversity of bumblebee species.

Bumblebee conservation at Ham HillJo led a walk though Ham Hill where we found 5 species of bumblebee and over the next day at Yeovil Country Park and Chard Reservoir Jo and the rangers also had positive walks with discussions around improvements to grassland management to support bumblebee populations.

Jo Chesworth from Bumblebee Conservation Trust said, “Bumblebees are among the most charismatic of Britain’s insects, but sadly they have been struggling in the last 60 years due to the loss of wildflower grasslands. Bumblebees are important wild pollinators of many agricultural crops and wildflowers. They are hardworking and because many of the 24 species have long tongues, they pollinate plants other insects can’t.

“The Bumblebee Conservation Trust is pleased to be working with SSDC Countryside Team and volunteers to help raise awareness of the value of bumblebees and to provide advice on how the flower rich habitats they need could be restored or created on council owned land. This is particularly important in this area of Somerset which is home to some of the UK’s rarest bumblebees, including the shrill carder bee which is now only found in 5 or 6 locations in England and Wales.

“We had a great day at Ham Hill, with lots of enthusiastic participants keen to improve their identification skills, plenty of bees enjoying the sunshine, and useful discussions with the rangers about site management.”

Councillor Sylvia Seal, portfolio holder for Leisure & Culture at South Somerset District Council said, “The visit from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust has provided our Countryside Team with valuable knowledge of helping to keep a sustainable habitat for our local bumblebee population. At all of our sites, we try to ensure that habitats thrive so the wildlife can prosper.”


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