Bumblebee monitoring May 2010

30th May 2010, Sunday

The lawn in my front garden is covered in red clover, but there are surprisingly few bees on it.  This seems to be a general trend across our RX area.

The impact of the cold winter and late spring can be seen in the meadows on Dungeness at the moment.  Delayed growth of vegetation means that flowers have been slow to open, and there are even fewer bumblebees than at Northiam to feed on them.  Over the past week Pete Akers and I repeated timed walks on Dungeness and recorded only 15 bumblebees, the lowest May total since 2002.  We had 68 last year!  However 8 out of the 15 bees recorded were brown banded carder bees, one of the target species for conservation, and this equals the highest May total for this species since monitoring began in 2001.

Elsewhere in the RX area there is more good carder bee news.  Last August I found only a single queen brown banded carder bee in some red clover fields between Rye and Winchelsea.  This year I have found a worker of this species, gathering pollen, so the species is definitely nesting in this area this year.  So too is the moss carder bee , which was not found in 2009.  I managed to find a queen and a foraging worker.

So, encouraging news for our scarce carder bees so far this year.

Whilst walking the red clover fields over the past year it has been noticeable how popular they are with butterflies as well.  Today I was finding species such as common blue and brown argus on the flower heads.

Another nice find was a pair of mating hairy dragonfly, taking advantage of the shelter from the wind in the tall vegetation