The Bumblebee Conservation Trust

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust is a national conservation charity established in 2006 because of the serious concerns about the ‘plight of the bumblebee.’  We run science, conservation and awareness raising projects, encouraging our supporters to help increase the number and distribution of our valuable bumblebees and are now involved in twelve regionally focused projects across the UK.  Each project aims to inspire and educate local people to understand about the importance of bumblebees and give them the knowledge, skills and confidence to make a difference in their local community for pollinators.

In the last 80 years, bumblebee populations have been decimated and two native species have become extinct, in fact, eight of our remaining 24 bumblebee species are included on one or more devolved government’s Priority Species lists and our work involves habitat restoration/creation and education. 

Our vision is to create a world where bumblebees are thriving and valued and our mission is to increase the number and distribution of bumblebees.

The Trust bases its policies and practical conservation work through constant evaluation of scientific research and best practice, and our current activities include:-

Creating and restoring wildflower habitats in the areas where rare bumblebees need it most

Landscape-scale conservation projects around the UK

Employing more conservation staff, and creating and delivering more innovative projects to help bumblebees

Ensure we are the go-to place for bumblebees by developing our communications, social media and accessibility for all

Giving land managers, farmers and local communities’ practical advice on enhancing biodiversity for the benefit of bumblebees and other wild pollinators

Working with schools to inspire our very youngest audiences about the wonders of nature and the amazing lives of bumblebees

Surveys, called BeeWalks, so that we can better understand where our bumblebees are and where they are not.

 Our aim is to address the decline in bumblebee (and other wild pollinator) populations by increasing and restoring their habitats and there is a good commercial reason for doing so as pollinators are essential for our short- and long-term food production.

70 of the 100-crop species that provides 90% of food worldwide are pollinated by bees.

Our soft fruit industry relies on commercially reared bumblebees from Europe, to the tune of 75,000 nests a year.

Bumblebees are one of the major contributors in insect crop pollination, estimated to add €14.2 billion (in 2012) to the EU (approx. £700 million to the UK economy in 2019).

97% of Britain’s species-rich meadows have been lost since the 1930’s.

Bumblebees have smelly feet!  This is so they can tell when a flower has already been visited that day, so they don’t waste time looking for nectar that has already been taken.

Bumblebees are critical to the pollination of tomato plants, using “Buzz Pollination.” 

They are important pollinators of strawberries, raspberries, peas and beans in the UK too.

Bumblebees can fly up to 6km a day to forage on flowers – this is the equivalent of a person walking around the globe 10 times to get to the shops!

The Garden bumblebee’s tongue can be as long as 20cm, which is as long as the bee itself!

Bumblebees beat their wings up to 200 times a second, have five eyes and no ‘ears’, although they can sense vibrations.

Bumblebees have a quality to their blood that acts like antifreeze.  A hibernating queen can survive minus 19°C

The single most important thing that you can do to help bumblebees is plant flowers in your garden. Even a window box can make a difference.

As part of the National Pollinator Strategy, 5 simple actions have been identified that we can all do to help make our environment more pollinator friendly:

Grow more flowers, shrubs and trees

Let your garden grow wild

Cut grass less often

Don’t disturb insect nests and hibernation spots

Think carefully about whether to use pesticide

Here is a short list to give you an idea as to where donations can be used to create wildflower habitats and spread awareness.

£1 will buy a Bee ID chart that we can give out free to our BeeWalk volunteers so we can monitor ‘how the bees are doing’

£1.50 can start a wildlife friendly hedge – each tree whip (blackthorn, prunus, and hawthorn) can be given to schools or small holders to help them make bee friendly habitat for years to come!

50p will buy a bumble badge to give to children who visit us at events to show they love bumblebees

£3 will buy a lavender plant which we can provide to schools to start their bee friendly gardening club.

£2 will buy a packet of seeds that can provide flowers for a garden the size of snooker table or a table tennis table! Approx. 2 meters squared

£16 buys 100g of wildflower seeds to create around 5m2 of wildlife habitats – about the size of an average living room

£64 buys 400g of wildflower seeds to create 100m2 of wildlife habitats – about the size of a rugby pitch.

£75 helps towards the production of land management factsheets. These advise land managers on ways to improve their land for wild pollinators.

£100 pays for a bumblebee presentation and activity session at a primary school.

£250 covers the cost of a seed vacuum to harvest local seed for transplanting in a nearby field.

£550 helps towards local sourcing of ‘Green Hay’ which can be spread on a nearby field and has the advantages of providing fresh, native, species-rich wildflower seeds.