Use Twitter to Save Bumblebees
The Bumblebee Conservation Trust was established because of serious concerns about the ‘plight of the bumblebee’. In the last 80 years our bumblebee populations have crashed. Two species have become nationally extinct and several others have declined dramatically. Our mission is to increase the number and distribution of bumblebees.
It is well-known that bumblebees are great pollinators, and therefore have a key role in producing much of the food that we eat. Through the pollination of many commercial crops such as tomatoes, peas, apples and strawberries, insects are estimated to contribute over £600 million per annum to the UK economy (2015), and in doing so prop up the £108 billion per-year food and drink industry in Britain. Across the EU, insect pollinators are estimated to contribute €14.2 billion annually to the EU economy (2012). If bumblebee and other insect pollinator declines continue, the extremely high cost of pollinating these plants by other means could significantly increase the cost of fruit and vegetables (hand-pollinating British crops has been estimated to cost £1.8 billion annually).
Bumblebees also help pollinate many wildflowers, allowing them to reproduce. Without this pollination many of these plants would not produce seeds, resulting in declines in both abundance and distribution for a range of species. As these plants are often the basis of complex food chains, it is easy to imagine how other wildlife such as other insects, birds and mammals would all suffer if bees disappeared.
What can be done?
Fortunately, there is much that can be done to benefit bumblebees. At the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, we work to raise awareness of the plight of the bumblebees amongst the general public, as well as landowners, policymakers and other interested parties. In particular, we help our members by providing information about bumblebees, as well as newsletters with information and advice about the latest happenings in the bumblebee world.
It is entirely possible for individuals and other groups to help bumblebees without owning much land! Perhaps the simplest thing to do is to plant some bee-friendly plants in your garden, to flower between March and September. As gardens cover over one million acres in the UK, this presents a great opportunity to provide food for bumblebees. By using these spaces more effectively, we hope that everyone can get involved in making the landscape friendlier to bumblebees, and help reverse the declines of the past century.
People can also get involved in survey work. By doing this, we can see what bumblebees are present around the country, and how their distributions change over time. By monitoring the species like this, we can detect warning signs and take action to help.
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