The Bumblebee Conservation Trust – http:// www.bumblebeeconservationtrust.co.uk
BBC Gardener’s World on Friday 29th May was dedicated to bee-friendly gardening. The Director of the Trust, Ben Darvill, featured on a landmark program which will hopefully persuade gardeners up and down the UK to ‘bee-kind’ in their gardens.
The group is also working with the UK‘s biggest garden centre chain, Wyevale, to get the ‘bee-kind’ message in stores. During June, they will give away free copies of Gardening for Bumblebees with all memberships, in order to encourage more people to get involved.
QCA members will be only too aware of the disastrous decline in bees, both here in Europe and in the United States, where in some states they have been obliged to import bees from Australia.
The government here has announced that up to £10 million is to be invested to help to identify the main threats to bees and other insect pollinators. Some of the UK‘s major research funders have joined together to launch a new research programme. They argue that the biggest challenge will be to develop a better understanding of the complex relationships between biological and environmental factors which affect the health and lifespan of pollinators.
BBCT welcomes the broad focus on pollinators, but say there is a considerable body of evidence suggesting that a lack of habitat within the farmed landscape is the primary factor driving declines in most species.
Pollinator communities need an integrated landscape-scale approach to sensitive management. This is most certainly the case for bumblebees. We hope that funding for research will be matched by greater support for habitats – research alone isn’t enough.
Fortunately, awareness of bee declines seems to be on the up. Not only does BBCT have a growing network of members and supporters (approaching 4,000), but also has the support of Kate Humble, Chris Packham and David Attenbrough.
On a more political note, the importance of bumblebees is becoming increasingly recognised by our governments. The BBCT has met MEPs and MSPs to raise their concerns, and things seem to be progressing here. This week sees a debate in the Scottish Parliament on how bees can be helped in Scotland – BBCT is based at the University of Stirling.
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We commend the work of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust to everyone. Birkenhead Meeting is a regular donor to this excellent group and several of us have written to our MPs on the subject.