What is a Shrill Carder Bee?
Named for its high-pitched buzz, this appealing little insect is one of England’s rarest and most threatened bumblebees. The queen bees need long, tussocky grassland to conceal their nests, and they’ll produce around 50–70 workers in each colony. These workers forage from a wide variety of plants, but they are particularly fond of vetches, Red Clover, Black Horehound and Red Bartsia.
Why are they in trouble?
Shrill Carder Bees were once found throughout southern Britain. However, many areas that were once filled with wildflowers, on which these bees depend, have been lost. This is because of changes in the way land is managed, and expanding development. Only tiny clusters of the bee’s former population are still holding on. Two of these are in England, and three in South Wales.
How we will help the Shrill Carder Bee
This Back from the Brink project, led by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Buglife, is focusing on two of the last strongholds of the bee, in Somerset and the Thames Gateway.
The project will find out more about these two English populations. It will encourage creation of new habitat for the shrill carder and other bumblebees, as well as improved management and linking of remaining habitat patches. We will achieve this through workshops, walks, talks and advice and more. There will be plenty of opportunities for farmers and land managers to get involved. Such management will help to support this bee and other pollinator species, so it will be of benefit to the farmers too, as bumblebees are vital for pollination of crops early in the year.
What we’re aiming for
By the end of the project, we aim to have developed a Species Recovery Plan for the Shrill Carder Bee. This will act as an information source and guide for conservation work in the future, in the hope that we can save this charismatic little creature from extinction in England.
How to get involved
Are you interested in learning more about bumblebees and helping to monitor Shrill Carder Bees in Somerset or the Thames Gateway? Do you own/manage any land in the project areas and want to help shrill carder bees and other pollinators?
If the answer is yes, please get in touch!
You can get the latest news, and find out more about upcoming events, by following the links below.
Surveys to establish distribution of the bees and target landowner work
Spring / Summer 2018
Training workshops and volunteer recruitment to help us survey Shrill Carder Bees
Spring / Summer 2019
Working with landowers and providing habitat management advice at key sites
Farm days and land management workshops delivered
Shrill Carder Bee Species Recovery Plan produced