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The large garden bumblebee


The large garden bumblebee, Bombus ruderatus is the largest bumblebee in Britain and it uses its long face and tongue to pollinate hard-to-reach tubed flowers. Bumblebees are key pollinators in many agricultural ecosystems, which has led to this species and other bumblebees being commercially bred and introduced into non-native countries. Population numbers have been in decline and it has been placed on the Bioadversity Action Plan to help counteract these declines. In recent years, many countries have seen decreases in bee populations, specifically bumblebees. Some possible explanations include habitat disruption, climate change, disease, agrochemicals, as well as other factors. As stated previously, B. ruderatus has seen a population decline in Britain and has disappeared completely from many of its previous sites. Declines in bee populations can lead to other ecological issues, such as declines in the success of plant species that rely on their pollination. Great Britain adopted the Environmental Stewardship scheme which in effect encourages farmers to adopt bee friendly farming practices in an effort to help restore bee populations by increasing the available pollen and nectar.


The large garden bumblebee Photo credit: Steven Falk

Bumblebee identification

Bumblebee Identification apps available

For those interested in learning more about bumblebees, we highly recommend the following apps: Bumblebees of Britain & Ireland - NatureGuides Ltd., Blooms for Bees - Natural Apptitude, Great British Bee Count - Friends of the Earth Ltd. Bumblebee Apps


The red-shanked carder bee


The red-tailed bumblebee Photo credit: Ivar Leidus

The red-shanked carder bee or red-shanked bumblebee, Bombus ruderarius is found to be widespread throughout Europe and northwest Asia, as far afield as Ireland and Great Britain in the west to Siberia and northwest China in the east, as far north as the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia, and southwards to North Africa, southern Italy, Greece, and the Balkans. The distribution is uneven; in North Africa it is considered very rare, while in places such as the east Pyrenees, it is very common, accounting for more than half of all bumblebees in the area. In Britain, it is in decline due to several factors including lack of habitat. It is also considered an endangered species in Ireland.


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