Survival hopes for rare UK bumblebee species boosted by successful conservation project

Author: Maria Chiorando

Read Time:   |  16th December 2022

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The bumblebee species - the shrill carder bee - is so rare that just five population areas remain in the UK after a steep population decline over the last 80 years


The population of a rare UK bumblebee species has been given a boost thanks to a successful conservation project.

The shrill carder bee (Bombus sylvarum), whose name was inspired by the species’ characteristic high-pitched buzz, is one of many bumblebee varieties which has seen numbers decline sharply over the last 80 years.

It is one of the UK’s two rarest bumblebee species (the other is the Great Yellow). Just five population areas of the shrill carder bee remain in the UK.

Now an area of land in Kent owned by the Woodland Trust has been announced as a Champion Site for the species.

Victory Wood in Whitstable was purchased by the Trust in 2004. At the time, the 140 hectare site was almost entirely arable farmland.

Now, thanks to changes implemented by the Trust, biodiversity has been boosted and the area now consists of a mixture of woodland, scrub and grassland.

Four years ago, shrill carder bees were found at the site, prompting the Woodland Trust to join forces with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, and recruit volunteers to help the species.

Now surveys indicate that the population has risen significantly – with the highest number of 121 individuals recorded on one particular day.


Bumblebee population

In a statement sent to Vegan Food & Living, Dr Hazel Jackson, Head of Conservation Outcomes and Evidence at the Woodland Trust, said: “We are so pleased and excited that Victory Wood has been recognised as a champion site for the Shrill carder bee – it’s a real conservation success story and a great example of nature recovery.

“Since the amazing discovery of the bumblebee on site, we have been working closely with Bumblebee Conservation Trust to monitor and strengthen the Shrill carder bee population.

“We have also provided specialist training for volunteers and local residents in both identification and bee survey techniques.

“It really does show how restoring nature to a site can boost biodiversity and aid our fight against climate change.”


Daisy Headley, Shrill Carder Bee Species Recovery Manager at the Bumblebee Conservation Trust added: We are really excited to announce Victory Wood as a Champion site for the Shrill carder bee.

“We started designating champion sites to celebrate the exemplary work that sites are doing for our rare and scare bumblebees.

“Victory Wood, since its discovery, have gone above and beyond, not only managing the site sympathetically to provide forage and nesting habitat for this bumblebee, they have also aided in the monitoring of the population and promoting its story to those visiting the site.

“Hard work like this deserves to be recognised and we hope that other sites can look to Victory Wood for inspiration!”

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Featured image: Shrill carder bee queen taken by Mark Chidwick for Woodland Trust

Written by

Maria Chiorando

Maria is an editor and journalist. Her work has been published by the Huffington Post, the Guardian, TechnoBuffalo, Plant Based News, and Kent on Sunday among other national and regional titles.

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