Rare Bees Return to Warwickshire

Lord Willoughby de Broke’s Ditchford Farm in Warwickshire has recently become a popular haunt for two very rare species of bumble bee, Bombus Rudereatus and Bombus Harrisellus.

The Bombusgenus is unusual among British bumble bees because the bees are large, which means they need very flower rich landscapes. Over the last century, there has been a decline of 95% in their numbers, mainly because the plants and flowers they prefer had become scarce.

The Countryside Stewardship Scheme, run by Defra, aims to redress imbalances of this sort, and Lord Willoughby’s farm has been one of the sites involved. Its fields have wide margins, which are planted with a variety of grass and wildflowers designed to be beneficial to all sorts of wildlife, and have roved irresistible to the bees.

Steven Falk, Senior Keeper of natural history at Warwickshire Museum said: ‘When I first saw someRudereatusit was like seeing a ghost – the previous Warwickshire record was from the 1920s and I had assumed it was long extinct here.

‘It has been the most delightful discovery to see these bees back, and I really hope we can secure their long-term future here.’

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