The Shrill Carder Bee, Bombus sylvarum, like many other species of bumblebee, is threatened by loss of its wildflower rich-habitat and the intensification of agriculture and is declining across Europe. In the UK it was common until the early 20th century but is now restricted to a few small areas in southern England and south Wales. Somerset is one of its last remaining strongholds, but even here populations of the bee are small and of low density. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust's website lists the Shrill Carder Bee as one of two 'very rare' bumblebee species in the UK and it is included in the United Kingdom Biodiversity Action Plan.
Carymoor is situated within the Bumblebee Conservation Trust's target area for this species and it was recorded in our nature reserve in the summer of 2013. By creating suitable habitat we hope that the species will spread and colonise new areas and that its numbers will start to recover.
This project has come about as the result of the enthusiasm and hard work of one of our regular supporters, Stephen Best. With the help of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust we have identified 4.4 acres of grassland next to the visitor centre at Carymoor. We want to turn this area into a habitat rich in wild flowers with as long a flowering season as possible to encourage colonisation by the Shrill Carder Bee. Although the focus of the project is the Shrill Carder Bee, this will be of benefit to other invertebrates, including other species of bees and butterflies, which are also of conservation concern due to declines in their numbers.
We will be looking for volunteers from the local community to take part in the project: growing and planting out wildflowers, collecting wildflower seed, monitoring numbers of Shrill Carder Bees, other invertebrates, birds and wildflower species and maintenance of the wildflower-rich habitat in the years to come.