SSDC join up with conservationists to save the rare Shrill Carder Bee

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SSDC has signed up as a partner organisation with the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust in the fight to save the rare Shrill Carder Bee.

The Shrill carder bee

Above: The Shrill carder bee, Bombus sylvarum

The team at Ham Hill Country Park have already begun habitat management on the site to encourage rare Shrill carder bees to recolonise from an existing population nearby. The habitat management will be centred around the hay meadows in the flat fields of the park, and will include leaving areas of dense tussock grass for the bees to nest and hibernate.

Above: A view of the potential Shrill carder bee habitat site at Strouds meadow at Ham Hill Country Park

The shrill carder bees emerge from June to October, so the aim is to create habitat that will be a haven of late blooming wildflowers for the bees to forage from.  In particular flowers from the pea, daisy, mint and broomrape plant families have been shown to be important to the Shrill carder bees.

Above: Diverse wildflower species in the hay meadows at Ham Hill provide important foraging habitat for pollinators.

Why are we doing this?

Shrill carder bee populations are threatened by loss and fragmentation of habitat and they only exist in five isolated areas of the UK, of which Somerset is one. The small number of surviving populations makes the Shrill carder bee vulnerable to inbreeding and loss of genetic diversity, further increasing the risk of local extinctions. So they need our help!

How did this come about?

This exciting partnership has come from a steering group which was developed within the “Back from the brink’ Shrill carder Bee Project, and is made up of The Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Buglife, The Bees Wasps & Ants Recording Society, Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru/Natural Resources Wales, the RSPB, and Natural England and is endorsed by 25 other organisations, including SSDC. Each will play an important role in reversing the extinction threat to the Shrill carder bee.

SSDC Countryside manager, Rachael Whaites, said: “It’s great to be involved in a national conservation project and to play our part in helping to conserve the Shrill Carder bee.  The habitat management work that the rangers will undertake at Ham Hill for the Shrill Carder bee will also benefit many other species, including other pollinating insects, small mammals, reptiles and birds.  We hope that the Shrill Carder bee takes up residency on Ham Hill so that we can help to safeguard it as part of the British countryside for the future.”

SSDC Portfolio holder for environment, Cllr Sarah Dyke, said: “SSDC are committed to creating biodiverse areas for wildlife to thrive, and we are thrilled to be part of such an exciting project. As the number one pollinators, bees are essential to our eco system, and so it’s incredibly important that we create areas to support them wherever possible. This special habitat at Ham Hill Country park to encourage the rare Shrill carder bee will provide a perfect environment for them to thrive and colonise and we can’t wait to hear news that they have taken up residency in to this beautiful part of the South Somerset.”

You can find out more about the rare Shrill carder bee here: https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/red-tailed-bumblebees/shrill-carder-bee/

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