The Bumblebee Conservation Trust
Updated: May 30, 2019
Mission: To increase the number and distribution of bumblebees.
Vision: A world where bumblebees and thriving and valued.
The Bumblebee Conservation Trust is a science-led organisation, leading the UK’s only standardised abundance-based survey of a major pollinator group – BeeWalk – with over 350 sites monitored on a monthly basis through the flight season. The BBCT are always keen to collaborate on bumblebee projects, especially conservation-related, and regularly support under- and post-grad students as well as working with academics from universities and research institutes across the UK.
“Our vision is that everything we do will help to ensure our communities and countryside across the UK are rich in bumblebees and colourful wildflowers, supporting a diversity of wildlife habitats for everyone to enjoy”
Why are Bumblebees so important?
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.
Why do Bumblebees need our help?
In the last 80 years our bumblebee populations have crashed. Two species have become nationally extinct and several others have declined dramatically.
These declines have occurred mainly because of large-scale changes to the way the countryside is managed. First the mechanisation of agriculture, then later the public demand for cheap food, the need for ever-greater quantities of food and crops, and the increasing reluctance to buy ‘wonky’ fruit and vegetables have conspired to hugely reduce the nationwide density of the flowering plants that bumblebees feed on, as well as the sheltered corners that they nest and overwinter in.
Bumblebees are an important and cherished component of our biodiversity - our commoner bumblebee species contribute significantly to our economy through the ecosystem service that their pollination of crops provides. Pollination is vital for many of the nation’s wild plants and it helps to maintain affordable five-a-day fruit and vegetables. Bumblebees also support the wider ecosystem through pollinating a diversity of wild plant species.
We are raising money to help support the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in their mission to halt and reverse declines in the UK’s bumblebees. Their work includes raising the awareness of the general public and policy makers, conducting surveys and gathering data and providing land management advice. Please help the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in achieving their vision of a countryside rich in bumblebees and wildflowers.