Gardeners and allotment holders invited to take part in new bumblebee survey

garden organic logoGardeners and allotment holders are being invited to take part in an exciting new bumblebee survey aimed at gauging bee numbers and behaviours in UK allotments and gardens.

The Centre for Agroecology and Food Security (CAFS), a joint initiative between Garden Organic and Coventry University, has launched the “Bumblebee presence and resource utilisation in allotments and gardens in the United Kingdom” research project. Its aim is to explore the diversity and abundance of the eight most common bumblebee species in UK allotments and gardens.

The survey runs from June to August 31 and people can take part by downloading instructions and recording forms from the Garden Organic website. They will be asked to record bee numbers and behaviours over a three month period.

Participants will be asked once a week, when there is sunshine or scattered cloud, to observe all the bumblebees entering their chosen survey area for a ten minute period. They will record their numbers and the types of plants and flowers visited by the bees.

dt brown beeA handy bee identification guide to help participants recognise the different species of bees is available as part of the bee survey support materials. As with the instructions and recording forms, these can be downloaded from the Garden Organic website.

Bret Willers, Garden Organic’s Development Director, said: “We are excited to launch this important field research project, which will help to play a vital role in tracking bee numbers and behaviours in UK allotments and gardens. The CAFS team are calling on all gardeners and allotment holders to take part in the bumblebee survey, so we can build up an extensive set of research findings about UK bumblebee populations.

“It will help to inform vital conservation work for the future aimed at ensuring the creation of bee friendly gardens and growing spaces to help reverse the decline in UK bee populations. “

The survey aims to discover the numbers of bumblebees present in UK allotments and gardens and how the different species of bumblebee forage and use the different plants and flowers available. It will also explore the current management techniques used to encourage and support bumblebee populations, with the hope of discovering some unusual new ways to attract bees.

The bumblebee project will also enable the development of recommendations for allotment and garden management techniques to aid bumblebee conservation. Those novel management techniques will then be trialled to determine their vale for bumblebee populations.

For those wanting to take part in the survey and download the bee survey support materials, click here to go to Garden Organic’s CAFS bee survey page.

The Centre for Agroecology and Food Security (CAFS) is a joint initiative between Coventry University and Garden Organic, which brings together social and natural scientists whose collective research expertise in the fields of agriculture and food spans several decades. The Centre conducts critical, rigorous and relevant research which contributes to the development of resilient food systems which are economically sound, socially just and promote long-term protection of natural resources

Interview with Lucy Rothstein, Bumblebee Conservation Trust CEO

bumblebee conservation trust logoBumblebee Conservation Trust CEO, Lucy, being interviewed by BBC news. Lucy talks about the problems facing bumblebees and our reaction to the recently announced ban on the use of some neonicotinoid pesticides.

EU Votes to Ban Neonicotinoids

reutersToday the European union voted to ban the Neonicotinoids range for chemicals from agriculture and horticultural use. For gardeners in the United kingdom, only Bayer Lawn Grub
Killer with imidacloprid, and Westland’s plant rescue bug killer that has thiamethoxam as its main ingredient are affected.

Link to original Reuters News Story

Free Seeds for Bees

bayer2There is a lot of misinformation and lack of understanding being circulated about the effects of neonicotinoid, insecticides including imidacloprid and thiacloprid in relation to bee health.  Only one of our products, Provado Lawn Grub Killer, contains imidacloprid. The entire range of Provado Ultimate Bug Killer insecticides contains thiacloprid which has a good bee profile.  All these products have been fully approved for use as amateur garden products by the UK governing authorities.

There are several theories believed to be held partly responsible for the demise of our bee populations – loss of natural habitat, the lack of nectar rich plants, use of pesticides are just some of them. A major concern to the health of our bee colonies is the presence of the Varroa mite which causes poor bee health.  There are also a number of other parasites such as Nosema as well as a number of fungal and viral diseases that can significantly affect the health of a bee colony.

We are all concerned about the health of bees and at Bayer a lot of financial investment is apportioned into the Bee Care Centre in Monheim with the aim of minimizing the impact of crop protection products on bees and continually improving stewardship measures.   Bayer is also in the process of developing a product to control the Varroa mite.   These mites are known for attacking honey bees, attaching themselves to the body of a bee and weakening the bee by passing on a virus.  A large Varroa mite infestation can lead to the death of an entire bee colony.

There are things we can all do too to help support our local bees by growing wild flowers.  As a lack of nectar rich plants and flowers is one documented factor which affects the health of bees we are running a promotion with Mr Fothergills, the seed people.  For every bottle of Provado Ultimate Bug Killer Ready to Use you purchase you will obtain a free pack of mixed wildlife attracting flower seeds.  These seeds are blended to appeal to a wide range of insects including butterflies and bees who feed on the pollen, also included are those flowers which produce seed heads for wild birds to feed on.  Not only will you be helping to support your local bee population but you will also be offering support to other beneficial insects and wild birds creating an attractive and beneficial patch of wildlife habitat in your garden.

Get arty for bumblebees

bumblebee conservation trust logoSurvival Arts are helping to support the Short-haired Bumblebee Reintroduction Project (click here for information about that) by getting people to create works of art based on this bee species. Entries to the competition will be considered for use on products being sold by Survival Arts, the proceeds of which will go toward the Reintroduction Project. The winner will also receive £300. There’s more information on how to enter on the Survival Arts website at


Bumblebees’ Big Benefit From Johnson Seed Sales

johnsons logoThe Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT), has benefitted to the tune of £4682 thanks to customers of seed company Johnsons.  For every packet of Johnsons Mixed Bumblebee Friendly Flowers seed purchased in the last year, 25p was pledged to the BBCT, and the company is pleased to continue its support through the 2013 season.

Lucy Rothstein, chief executive of the BBCT said the Trust was delighted to receive this support from Johnsons Seeds’ customers.  “Their generous donation helps in our twin aims of conservation and outreach.  Britain’s bees are in trouble and urgently need flower-rich habitats to sustain their populations.  Johnsons Seeds is helping us realise our vision that one day our communities and countryside will be rich in colourful wildflowers and bees, supporting a diversity of wildlife and habitats for everyone to enjoy.”

The contents of the Mixed Bumblebee Friendly Flowers comprise a carefully selected and well-balanced blend of more than 25 annuals and perennials, the result of close co-operation between Johnsons and the BBCT. The varieties chosen will not only attract bees and many other beneficial insects, but will also look most attractive for most of the summer.  Recent research has shown that gardens are becoming increasingly important for bumblebees and other wild pollinators.

johnsons bees chequeJohnsons’ Helen Clayton believes gardeners can play a significant role in aiding bumblebees just by growing certain types of flowers.  “For example, single flowers are more appealing to bees than double-flowered forms, while old-fashioned ‘cottage garden’ flowers are attractive both to bees and humans”, said Helen.  For further information on the aims and work of the BBCT log on to

Recent research led by Prof. Daniel Robert of the University of Bristol and published in the online journal Science Express suggests bumblebees can detect flowers’ electric fields and use these to discriminate between different species, helping them to enhance their memory of where they have found floral rewards.

Johnsons seeds are available from garden centres, supermarkets and leading DIY stores throughout the UK and at  Look out for the free Johnsons “Growing a Wildlife Garden” leaflet in garden centres.


Bees Make Better Fruit And Veg Crops

dt_brown logoBritain’s fruit and vegetable gardeners can look forward to heavier crops while doing their bit to help bumblebee conservation when they buy a Beepol Lodge or Beepol Cabin from mail order kitchen garden supplier D. T. Brown.  The company offers a choice of two designs of ‘home’, stoutly-made and attractive wooden structures,

in which to house a queen, around 30 workers bees plus eggs, which are already contained dt brown bee lodgewithin their new home on receipt.  The bees supplied are native buff-tailed bumblebees (Bombus terrestris audax), originally collected in Suffolk and other UK sites.  Full instructions are included with every order.

D. T. Brown’s Tim Jeffries believes the bee colonies will prove popular with allotment societies, who may club together to buy their own colony, and those with several fruit trees and bushes in their gardens.  He explains the advantages bumblebees have when compared with honeybees.  “They visit more flowers, carry heavier loads and remain active at lower temperatures.  The way they ‘buzz pollinate’ means a wider variety of plants get pollinated, while their dt brown hivesize gives them better contact with plant stamens and pistils than smaller insects – and because they do not have a communication system they do not leave an area en masse when they find an alternative pollen source”.

In addition, bumblebees move from tree to tree more frequently in fruit crops than honeybees do, resulting in better pollination, their colonies are smaller than those of honeybees, and they seldom become aggressive.  ABeepol Lodge and ‘hive’ of bumblebees costs £144.95, a Beepol Cabin and bees costs £134.95, while the bees may also be purchased separately at a cost £70.00.  Bumblebees do not endure and the colony will need to be replaced annually.  Before the queen dies she produces young queens which will leave to hibernate and establish new colonies the following year.

The Beepol Lodge and Cabin are featured in the new Gardeners’ Selection 2013 Catalogue from D. T. Brown. To request a free copy, write to D. T. Brown, Western Avenue, Matrix Park, Chorley, Lancashire PR7 7NB, telephone 0845 3710532, fax 0845 3710534 or go online at

400 Teachers For Amateur Beekeepers

defra 2Britain’s backyard beekeepers are to be helped to avoid the problem of winter bee deaths by 400 Government-backed volunteer teachers.

Soaring numbers of people are taking up the hobby amid concern over honey bee decline. But due to challenges from pests and diseases, inexperienced beekeepers are losing more colonies over winter, so better skills are needed.

400 experts across England and Wales are to be trained to teach beekeepers good husbandry as part of a new project under the Government’s Healthy Bees Plan. It will be run in partnership by the British Beekeeping Association (BBKA) and National Diploma of Beekeeping Board (NDBB), and jointly funded by Defra.

The partnership’s new “Course in a Case”, full of training materials, will be delivered through local beekeeping associations. Beekeepers will be trained in groups by the new teachers alongside government bee inspectors, who already offer advice to beekeepers on pests and diseases.

Environment Minister Lord Henley said:

“Bees are essential to putting food on our table and worth £200m to Britain every year through pollinating our crops. This training will help the many new beekeepers keep their hives healthy and bees buzzing.”

BBKA President Martin Smith said:

“We are delighted to be joining forces with the Government to improve the education of the dramatically increasing numbers of new beekeepers.

“We look forward to working with the National Bee Unit to ensure that the band of new trainers have the high quality teaching materials they need to be a viable support to our local associations whose teaching and mentoring resources have become strained to breaking point.”

The National Bee Unit (NBU), where Government inspectors are based, has found that in 2008/9 14 per cent of colonies died over winter and in 2009/10 16 per cent died.

The NBU has issued top tips on often-overlooked key autumn jobs. These include checking hives for disease, treating mites and leaving enough honey for food during the cold months.

Head of the NBU, Mike Brown, said:

“More and more people are starting beekeeping, which is brilliant – it is a release from the pressures of modern life and helps the environment. But it should not be taken lightly, and it’s best to find a mentor with practical experience as well as getting advice from us.

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