Over the past week or two I have been recording numbers of bumblebees on timed walks at Dungeness (with Pete Akers), East Guldeford, Rye and Pett Level. Dungeness has proved to be disappointing this year, with a dramatic decline in the numbers of these insects since last month, possibly because dry conditions have affected the quality of forage. Highlights have been some of the field margins at Rye and Pett Level, with a strip of hybrid marsh/hedge woundwort producing very large numbers of bumblebees again this year.
This plant at Pett level proved to be particularly attractive to the garden bumblebee Bombus hortorum and the red-tailed bumblebee Bombus lapidarius, but a third specimen of the scarce moss carder bee Bombus muscorum was also present indicating that low numbers of this species have established in this area this year.
This plant has high potential for use in pollen and nectar field margins if a way can be found to harvest the roots and establish them in new fields (the hybrid does not set viable seed).
Another red-shanked carder bee Bombus ruderarius was also found in a red clover field margin, close to one of the early locations for this very scarce species earlier in the summer. Again the garden bumblebee was particularly numerous on this margin pointing to the value of these pollen and nectar strips.