Nav: Home

UK bumblebee population trends

October 29, 2018

Data collected by Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT) volunteers to assess the country's changing bumblebee populations have been analysed in a new way for the first time at the University of Kent - and show mixed results about their decline, with cause for concern for two species.

Data was analysed for the five commonest species in the BBCT's BeeWalk dataset. The two rarest species (Early Bumblebee Bombus pratorum and Red-tailed Bumblebee B. lapidarius) out of the five have declined since 2011 while the two commonest ones (Common Carder bumblebee B. pascuorum and Tree Bumblebee B. hypnorum) have increased. The Tree bumblebee, first found in the UK in 2001, has spread rapidly across the country.

Britain's 25 bumblebee species are some of the nation's favourite creatures and are also vital for the pollination of crops, garden plants and wildflowers. However, they have suffered huge declines over the past century: two species went extinct in the past 80 years, and eight species are endangered. These species were known to have declined in distribution over the long term but little was known about how bumblebee populations have changed more recently.

Hundreds of BeeWalk volunteers together walked nearly 5,000 kilometres each year to gather information about the numbers, species and caste (queens, workers or males) of the bumblebees they saw and identified.

Statistician Dr Eleni Matechou, of the Statistical Ecology at Kent group in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science (SMSAS), devised new methodology to analyse the data collected by BeeWalk. The new statistical methodology uses the UK-wide aggregate data on bumblebee detections and provides important information on each of the bumblebee species, such as the average number of worker and queen bumblebees produced from each nest per year.

Dr Matechou says: 'Volunteers do an impressive job at detecting bumblebees on their surveys and identifying their species and caste, when possible. The data collected so far have provided us with invaluable information on the state of UK bumblebee populations. However, if we had better data, we could decrease uncertainty around our estimates of population trends. We hope we can move this research forward by developing a dedicated BeeWalk smartphone app to help volunteers carry out their work thereby collecting even better-quality data and creating a new class of more sophisticated statistical models to analyse them.'
-end-
Caste-Specific Demography and Phenology in Bumblebees: Modelling BeeWalk data by Eleni Matechou, Stephen N. Freeman and Richard Comont is published in the Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Statistics. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2Fs13253-018-0332-y.pdf

Sandy Fleming | Press Officer
Press Office, Corporate Communications, University of Kent
Room 155, The Registry
Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, UK
Mon-Fri: 08.30-16.30
Tel: +44 (0)1227 823581 | +44 (0)1634 888879 http://www.kent.ac.uk/news| @UniKent

Gold for Kent in Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

Notes to editors.

Beewalk is a citizen science project led by the BBCT to gather data on bumblebee populations, starting in 2008. http://www.beewalk.org.uk

Established in 1965, the University of Kent - the UK's European university - now has almost 20,000 students across campuses or study centres at Canterbury, Medway, Tonbridge, Brussels, Paris, Athens and Rome.

It was ranked 22nd in the Guardian University Guide 2018 and in June 2017 was awarded a gold rating, the highest, in the UK Government's Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

In 2018 it was also ranked in the top 500 of Shanghai Ranking's Academic Ranking of World Universities and 47th in the Times Higher Education's (THE) new European Teaching Rankings.

Kent is ranked 17th in the UK for research intensity (REF 2014). It has world-leading research in all subjects and 97% of its research is deemed by the REF to be of international quality.

Along with the universities of East Anglia and Essex, Kent is a member of the Eastern Arc Research Consortium.

The University is worth £0.7 billion to the economy of the south east and supports more than 7,800 jobs in the region. Student off-campus spend contributes £293.3m and 2,532 full-time-equivalent jobs to those totals.

Kent has received two Queen's Anniversary prizes for Higher and Further Education.

University of Kent

Related Bumblebees Articles:

Bumblebees benefit from faba bean cultivation
About one third of payments received by farmers are linked to 'greening measures' to promote biodiversity.
Does city life make bumblebees larger?
Does urbanisation drive bumblebee evolution? A new study by Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig provides an initial indication of this.
Researchers look for answers as to why western bumblebees are declining
The decline of the Western bumblebee is likely not limited to one culprit but, instead, due to several factors that interact such as pesticides, pathogens, climate change and habitat loss.
Bumblebees speed up flowering
When pollen is in short supply, bumblebees damage plant leaves in a way that accelerates flower production, as an ETH research team headed up by Consuelo De Moraes and Mark Mescher has demonstrated.
When plant pollen scarce, bumblebees biting leaves causes flowers to bloom early
Facing a scarcity of pollen, bumblebees will nibble on the leaves of flowerless plants, causing intentional damage in such a way that accelerates the production of flowers, according to a new study, which reports on a previously unknown behavior of bumblebees.
Pollinator-friendly flowers planted along with crops aid bumblebees
A new study reported this week by evolutionary ecologist Lynn Adler at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Rebecca Irwin of North Carolina State University, with others, suggests that flower strips -- rows of pollinator-friendly flowers planted with crops -- offer benefits for common Eastern bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) colony reproduction, but some plants do increase pathogen infection risk.
Bumblebees aversion to pumpkin pollen may help plants thrive
Cornell University researchers have found that squash and pumpkin pollen have physical, nutritional and chemical defense qualities that are harmful to bumblebees.
Sugar-poor diets wreak havoc on bumblebee queens' health
UC Riverside study shows that without adequate sugar, a bumblebee queen's fat body, which functions like a human liver, does not correctly produce enzymes required for healthy metabolism and detoxification from pesticides.
Bumblebees can experience an object using one sense and later recognize it using another
Researchers at Queen Mary University of London and Macquarie University in Sydney have published new work in the journal Science showing that bumblebees can find objects in the dark they've only seen before.
Bumblebees recognize objects through sight and touch, a complex cognitive feat
Demonstrating an unprecedented degree of cognitive complexity in an insect, researchers report that bumblebees are capable of recognizing objects across senses.
More Bumblebees News and Bumblebees Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Debbie Millman: Designing Our Lives
From prehistoric cave art to today's social media feeds, to design is to be human. This hour, designer Debbie Millman guides us through a world made and remade–and helps us design our own paths.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#574 State of the Heart
This week we focus on heart disease, heart failure, what blood pressure is and why it's bad when it's high. Host Rachelle Saunders talks with physician, clinical researcher, and writer Haider Warraich about his book "State of the Heart: Exploring the History, Science, and Future of Cardiac Disease" and the ails of our hearts.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Insomnia Line
Coronasomnia is a not-so-surprising side-effect of the global pandemic. More and more of us are having trouble falling asleep. We wanted to find a way to get inside that nighttime world, to see why people are awake and what they are thinking about. So what'd Radiolab decide to do?  Open up the phone lines and talk to you. We created an insomnia hotline and on this week's experimental episode, we stayed up all night, taking hundreds of calls, spilling secrets, and at long last, watching the sunrise peek through.   This episode was produced by Lulu Miller with Rachael Cusick, Tracie Hunte, Tobin Low, Sarah Qari, Molly Webster, Pat Walters, Shima Oliaee, and Jonny Moens. Want more Radiolab in your life? Sign up for our newsletter! We share our latest favorites: articles, tv shows, funny Youtube videos, chocolate chip cookie recipes, and more. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.