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 the Shrill Carder Bee has benefited
This Back from the Brink project, led by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Buglife, ran from 2017 - 2020 and focused on two of the last strongholds of the bee, in Somerset and the Thames Gateway.
The project improved our understanding of the Shrill Carder Bee by working with volunteers to survey new sites and monitor populations on some of their strongholds. To help safeguard the future of the bee, we worked with landowners across 55 sites in Somerset and the Thames Gateway to enhance the flower and nesting resources over 189 ha of habitat- that’s over 260 football pitches! By training land managers and creating case studies of how to manage different sites for the Shrill Carder Bee, we hope that others continue this amazing work.
Have a look at our project report to learn more about the work we did, or look at the case studies below:
The Shrill Carder Bee recovery plan
We brought together bumblebee experts from across the country to produce the important ‘Shrill Carder Bee Conservation Strategy 2020-2030’ to help the bee thrive long into the future!
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 and Wales.