New research by the University of Reading shows that the West Midlands Long-Horned Bee is holding on to its northernmost stronghold and is restricted to just a few small areas.
Britain has over 250 bee species, but numbers have fallen dramatically in recent years, affected by disease, chemicals and habitat loss. Friends of the Earth’s Bee Cause campaign is calling on bee-lovers in the West Midlands to help reverse the fortunes of this iconic bee.
Research indicates that the decline of this large distinctive bee is due to conversion of flower-rich grassland to more intense farming use.
The West Midlands is home to the most Northerly members of this rare species. The Long-Horned Bee lives on pH neutral grasslands that support an abundance of flowers. The best places to see this iconic bee are around disused train lines and quarries in South Staffordshire, Warwickshire and North Worcestershire.
Leading bee expert from the University of Reading, Professor Simon Potts, said: “The way we farm and use land across the UK has pushed many rare bees into serious decline. I’m calling on the government to act swiftly to save these iconic creatures which are essential to a thriving environment and our food supply”.
Sandra Bell, Nature Campaigner said: ‘The iconic Long-Horned Bee is in real trouble. But people in the West Midlands can change all that with simple practical actions and by urging their MPs to play their part. Let’s make 2013 the year of the bee.’
The plight of the Long-Horned Bee is part of a national decline in UK bee populations. The UK has lost 20 species of bee since 1900. A 2012 study showed it would cost farmers £1.8bn a year to replace the pollination service bees provide for free.
What can people in the West Midlands do?
• Plant bee-friendly flowers such as clover, pea, vetch and bird’s foot trefoil.
• Raise bee-decline with your local MP and ask them to support a Bee Action Plan.
• Ask local authorities to identify and protect local sites important to bees.
• To find out more about helping bees go to www.foe.co.uk/bees.
What can government do?
The Bee Cause is calling for a national Bee Action Plan to help all bees species. A Bee Plan would help the Long-Horned Bee and other species by helping farmers, gardeners and park keepers to reduce chemicals that harm bees; and ensure our towns and countryside provide bees with enough flowers to feed on and places to nest.
The Long-Horned Bee (Eucera Longicornis)