This bee was widespread and common in the 19th and early 20th centuries, especially in southern England. However, post-1960 records suggest a decline to only one third of the previous distribution by the 1970s, with just seven sites reliably identified in the south and east of the British Isles in the 1980s. This decline has been attributed to changes in agricultural practices resulting in the loss of foraging and nesting sites in herb-rich rough grasslands such as headlands.
This species is widespread in continental Europe but is likely to be in decline in areas of extensive farming and limited habitat.
Current factors causing loss or decline
Loss of herb-rich grasslands through agricultural intensification.
The JNCC has produced an outline action plan for threatened bees in the genus Bombus.
Action plan objectives and targets
Maintain all viable populations.
Ensure the long-term survival of the bee in the UK using habitat restoration and re-introductions as necessary.
Proposed actions with lead agencies
Policy and legislation
No action proposed.
Site safeguard and management
Consider notifying sites supporting viable populations of the shrill carder bee as SSSIs, where this is necessary to secure appropriate management. (ACTION: CCW)
Consider whether appropriate land management schemes can assist in encouraging the maintenance and, if necessary, restoration of herb-rich grasslands at known sites for this bee. (ACTION: NE, MAFF)
If less than 20 populations exist, use habitat restoration and re-introductions as necessary to secure the survival of the bee in the UK. (ACTION: CCW, NE)
Species management and protection
Consider establishing a captive breeding population with a view to undertaking re-introductions. (ACTION: NE)
Provide advice on suitable management for relevant land managers. (ACTION: CCW, NE)
Future Research and Monitoring
Promote ecological research, to establish the habitat requirements of this species, the factors limiting breeding success at existing sites, dispersal ability and appropriate re-introduction methods. (ACTION: CCW, NE)
Promote surveys to determine the current status of the bee by the year 2000. (ACTION: CCW, NE)
Undertake surveys monitor the status of known sites and to establish whether suitable receptor sites exist for re-establishing populations. (ACTION: NE)
Encourage further research to identify the level of threat posed to this species by the introduction of non-native species and strains of Bombus used in pollinating greenhouses. (ACTION: ITE)
Pass information gathered during survey and monitoring of this species to JNCC or BRC so that it can be incorporated in national databases. (ACTION: CCW, NE)
Communications and Publicity
Use this species to promote appreciation and conservation of threatened species of bumblebee and their habitats. (ACTION: CCW, NE)
Links with other action plans
Originally published in: Biodiversity: The UK Steering Group Report - Volume II: Action Plans (December 1995, Tranche 1, Vol 2, p127)
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