Climate change affecting Worcestershire's bees - how you can help

Buff-tailed bumblebees have been seen out and about in the winter <i>(Image: Wendy Carter)</i>
Buff-tailed bumblebees have been seen out and about in the winter (Image: Wendy Carter)

County residents are being urged to photograph any bumblebees they see feeding on flowers this winter.

Worcestershire Wildlife Trust are keen to hear from anyone who spots the insects out and about during January and February.

Nick Packham, part of the Trust’s Wildlife Sightings team, explained it is a relatively new phenomenon in Worcestershire, likely brought about by climate change.

He said: “Counties in southern England have had the joy of seeing bumblebees during the winter months for a little while now but this is a relatively new phenomenon here in Worcestershire.

“Bumblebees are one of the sounds of spring and summer and you might think that with their furry coats they’d be well suited for winter.

“It’s only in the last few years that bumblebee colonies in Worcestershire have been active during winter.

“With our changing climate, our wildlife is changing too and it’s important for us to be able to understand what is happening so that we can work out how best to help our beleaguered wildlife.”

Once bumblebee colonies break down in late summer and autumn, newly emerged queens find somewhere safe to spend winter, a process known as aestivation.

However, an increasing numbers of queen buff-tailed bumblebees are choosing to attempt to raise the next generation rather than hiding away for winter.

Such behaviour has so far been spotted more often in the south of the county where temperatures are milder, including places such as Malvern, Worcester and villages around Evesham.

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Worcester News: Residents are being urged to report bee sightings this winter
Worcester News: Residents are being urged to report bee sightings this winter

Residents are being urged to report bee sightings this winter (Image: Wendy Carter)

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Since 1940 two species of bumblebee have gone extinct with eight of the remaining 24 now on conservation priority lists because of significant population decline.

To try and help, the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust has partnered with Worcestershire Biological Records Centre, Worcestershire Recorders, to encourage residents to report sightings of active bumblebees.

“Through our Wildlife Sightings scheme we’re hoping that people across the county will help us to understand more about where our wildlife is found and when,” added Mr Packham

“The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries on earth, with 41% of our insect species facing extinction, so the more we know, the more we can help.

“We’ve got a simple form that people can complete on our website but we do ask for a photo so that we can verify every sighting. This is really important to ensure that the data remains reliable.”

Sightings can be reported at website www.worcswildlifetrust.co.uk/wildlife-sightings.