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Supporting bumblebee populations on quarry sites
Type:Press|InternationalNews  Date:2014-11-5  Resource:  Hits:57648  Print Close

Supporting bumblebee populations on quarry sites

In November 2012, the UK’s Mineral Products Association (MPA) and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT) signed a memorandum of understanding. This was a significant step towards meeting the aims of the MPA and BBCT, in particular, the protection, creation and restoration of flower rich habitats. In addition, it will help to extend the knowledge of those working on quarries about bumblebees in particular, and wildlife generally.

In the last 80 years bumblebee populations have crashed. Two species have become nationally extinct and several others have declined dramatically. Much of the work that BBCT carries out is with farmers and other land managers, so working with quarries was going to be a challenging and learning experience for both partners.

Since November 2012, BBCT has visited five quarries. These sites were all very different and required different approaches. Quarries can be surprisingly useful places for wildlife as the process often allows wildflowers to thrive, and pollinating insects such as bumblebees can be abundant. There are many different habitats on quarry sites and each one can be managed sensitively for bees.

As a result of the memorandum of understanding, the highlight of this year for BBCT was a visit to Wainwright’s Moon Hill quarry in Somerset – an MPA member. BBCT delivered a presentation to over 50 attendees at the Earth Science Centre. BBCT will be attending Moon Hill quarry’s open day on 6 September to encourage more people to plant flowers for bees.

Part of BBCT’s advisory work with farmers and landowners includes ‘Farm Days’, where farmers are invited to come along to other farms to see what the farmers there are doing that benefits bees. BBCT hopes that it in the future it will be possible to hold such a day for quarries. Its ambition is to get more quarries thinking about what they can do for bees. For example, restoration normally includes planting trees and there are some crucial trees for bees – the goat willow for example, which produces high quality nectar and pollen in March when bumblebees are emerging and need feeding up after their long hibernation.

BBCT also wants quarry workers to start monitoring bees. This year saw the launch of the national BeeWalk scheme – the only national recording scheme that monitors the abundance of bumblebees providing early warning of declines. A network of volunteers walk a set route (1 km) once a month between March and October, counting and identifying the bumblebees they see. More information about participating can be found here.

In 2013, the Conservation Team put together a Quarry fact sheet, which can be read here. BBCT is also working with RESTORE, to share its knowledge, hopefully making more gains for wildlife and bumblebees.

The importance of bees generally cannot be underestimated. In the UK about 70 crops are dependent on, or benefit from, visits from bees. The economic value of bees, as pollinators of commercially grown insect pollinated crops in the UK, has been estimated at over £500 million pa. Insect pollination contributes around €14.2 billion to Europe’s economy, and bumblebees are one of the most important pollinators.

From World Cement

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