Looking out for Bumblebees

Horticulturist, Sarah Wilson talks to Gill Perkins, CEO of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust about bumblebee populations and habitats.

Over the past century, Bumblebee populations are in decline. Two species became extinct in the UK during the 20th century: Cullum’s bumblebee (Bombus cullumanus) last seen on the Berkshire Downs in 1941, and the Short-haired bumblebee (Bombus subterraneus), last seen at Dungeness in 1988 and officially declared extinct in 2000.

A further eight species (a third of the remaining species) are currently listed on at least one of the English, Welsh and Scottish conservation priority species lists due to their large-scale declines in distribution. The declines are largely due to countryside management and subsequent reductions in nationwide density of the flowering plants that bumblebees feed on and use for (nesting and overwintering) shelters.

In this podcast, Perkins outlines current bumblebee population data, habitats, the work of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, what can be done for bumblebees and their role in agriculture such as tomato pollination. Importantly, Perkins also highlights the Trusts’ annual BeeWalk report, which outlines the findings of the monitoring scheme active across Great Britain. The outputs of BeeWalk reports are now widely used to inform policy and conservation interventions.

This podcast is part of a series by Sarah Wilson on Roots and All.