It seems from a recent report seen on the BBC that the number of bumblebees across several countries have declined by a third since the 1970’s. Climbing temperatures will increasingly cause declines, which are already more severe than previously thought, say researchers.
Bumblebees are key pollinators of many fruits, vegetables and wild plants. Without them, some crops could fail, reducing food for humans and countless other species.
In the new study, researchers are said to have looked at more than half a million records of 66 bumblebee species from 1901 to 1974 and from 2000 to 2014. They found bumblebee populations declined rapidly between 2000-2014: the likelihood of a site being occupied by bumblebees dropped by an average of over 30% compared with 1901-1974.
The BBC quotes Jonathan Bridle and Alexandra van Rensburg of the University of Bristol as describing the findings as "alarming". Commenting in the journal Science, they said, "The new study adds to a growing body of evidence for alarming, widespread losses of biodiversity and for rates of global change that now exceed the critical limits of ecosystem resilience."
So what can we do about it?
As we all know, we do not have control of the weather, however we all can certainly influence and increase the bio-diversity in our gardens to improve the welfare of the insects, birds and mammals who populate them.
In recent years we have seen a number of local authorities who, due to budgetary cuts, have had to reduce their number of grass cutting operations. Long grass management regimes have been implemented, along with introducing wildflower meadows within their road islands, verges and in public parks. We can follow suit in our own gardens.
The starting point is to really have a better understanding of what wildlife we have on our own doorstep and how we can increase its diversity. This should be done by conducting surveys of what birds, insects and mammals are living and visiting our gardens. Once we have this data, we can then action a plan to facilitate and manage their needs and requirements.
This can be achieved in a number of ways, perhaps by changing our grass mowing regimes, if we have some extra space we could create both annual and perennial meadow areas, plant more trees and scrub, introduce beehives, bird boxes, log piles and create some water features. Whilst we are working in our gardens this summer, it’s the perfect time to plan what we can do to support our wildlife.
Blog by Laurence Gale MSC, MBPR