Can you help save the Great Yellow Bumblebee?

THE DECLINE which has hit bee numbers in Britain over the last few years has now restricted the Great Yellow Bumblebee to the north and west of Scotland.

This is despite the species having once enjoyed a UK-wide distribution. However, there are certain things local people can do to help the situation.

Research by Reading University found that decline of the large and distinctive bumblebee is primarily due to a loss of flower-rich habitats for bees.

If you want to help, you can plant bee-friendly flowers such as clover; raise bee-decline with your local MP asking them to support a Bee Action Plan and your local MSP asking them to support action for bees in Scotland; and ask the local authority to identify and protect local sites important to bees.

To find out more about helping bees go to www.foe.co.uk/bees.

Leading bee expert Professor Simon Potts said: “The way we farm and use land across the UK has pushed many rare bees into serious decline. I’m calling on the government to act swiftly to save these iconic creatures which are essential to a thriving environment and our food supply”.

Sandra Bell, Friends of the Earth nature campaigner said: “The iconic Great Yellow Bumblebee is in real trouble. But people in Scotland can change all that with simple practical actions and by urging their MPs to play their part. Let’s make 2013 the year of the bee.”

The decline of the Great Yellow Bumblebee is part of a wider national decline in UK bee populations. The UK has lost 20 species of bee since 1900. A 2012 study showed the loss of all bees would have disastrous effects on farming, costing £1.8bn to replace the pollination service they provide for free.

The Bee Cause is calling for a UK-wide Bee Action Plan to help all bee species. A Bee Plan would help the Great Yellow Bumblebee and other species by helping farmers, gardeners and park keepers to reduce chemicals that harm bees and ensure our towns and countryside provide bees with enough flowers to feed on and places to nest.

Specific targeted action from the Scottish Government in areas where it has devolved powers would also be needed to help B. distinguendus including ensuring that important sites for the Great Yellow Bumblebee and other species are protected through the Scottish planning system.