I just have to mention this important topic again (previous blog here). A programme on Radio 4 last week – “The Plight of the Bumblebee” – emphasised the importance of bumblebees to pollination. Apparently bumblebee tongues are generally longer than those of honeybees, and able to pollinate differently-shaped flowers. The Bumble Bee Conservation Trust says that, of our 27 native bumblebees, 3 are extinct, and several others threatened. The decline in bumblebees not only adversely affects our food supplies, but the general colour of our countryside, where wildflower species will disappear, impacting on other wildlife which is dependent on these plants.
The Radio 4 programme had some interesting snippets: the use of specially-trained dogs to seek out bumblebee nests in the wild; bumblebees giving a high-pitched buzz while inside a flower, to dislodge the pollen; large areas of land at Dungeness being planted with bumblebee-friendly meadows, where short-haired bumblebees are to be re-introduced from New Zealand, where they were sent from Britain over a century ago (see also here).
As pointed out in “The Plight of the Bumblebee”, if you take all the gardens (and even window boxes) in Britain, the area of land equals more than all of our conservation areas put together, so we can all do our part by growing just a few bee-friendly plants, and avoid modern bedding plants, which are mainly sterile hybrids, with no pollen.
More links on bumblebees: