Many bee species extinct or under threat in UK, report says

Many species of bees are on the brink of extinction in parts of the UK with some types lost entirely, a report has found.

Climate change, habitat loss, pollution and disease are revealed to be threatening the pollinators following research at centres in the east of England.

It concluded that 17 species were regionally extinct – including the Great Yellow Bumblebee, the Potter Flower Bee and the Cliff Mason Bee – with 25 types threatened and another 31 of conservation concern.

The report found 17 species of bee were now extinct in the area (SuzieHubbard/WWF)
The report found 17 species of bee were now extinct in the area (SuzieHubbard/WWF)

Published on Monday which is World Bee Day, The Bees Under Siege report by WWF and Buglife analysed data recorded for 228 species of bees.

The pollinating services of the insect are worth £690 million per year to the UK economy.

An important region for agriculture, the research centres were in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertforshire, Norfolk and Suffolk – all home to nationally and internationally significant pollinating populations.

The report recommends a number of conservation actions to help stabilise populations of bees and reverse declines.

– Ensure that coastal management plans protect coastal habitats and promote the management of sea walls

– Safeguard wildlife-rich brownfield sites and promote beneficial management

– Identify opportunities to connect disjointed habitat fragments and promote coordinated management between landowners and landholdings

-Local Authorities can work with and support local communities in urban areas to restore and create new habitats

– Ongoing survey and monitoring of bee populations

– Maintain and increase awareness, advice, support and funding for practical delivery projects.

The report also called on the upcoming Westminster Environment Act to be “ambitious enough” to develop a nature recovery network for bees.

The report analysed data recorded for 228 species of bees (WWF)
The report analysed data recorded for 228 species of bees (WWF/PA)

It comes as a report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) revealed an alarming loss of biodiversity.

Tanya Steele, chief executive at WWF, said: “The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world and the fact that our precious pollinators are in peril is a sad illustration of the dramatic decline in wildlife we’re seeing all around us.

“We desperately need targeted action if we’re going to bring under-pressure wildlife back from the brink.

“The upcoming Environment Act gives us a golden opportunity to restore our natural world – we need to ensure it’s ambitious enough to do that.”

Matt Shardlow, chief executive at Buglife, said: “Our study found that many of the rarer, more specialist bees are battling to keep up with the changing face of their landscape and increasingly hot weather.

“Although a few species have expanded their populations and range, more species are in decline, 17 species are already extinct in the region and another six species are now so endangered they are only known to survive on single sites – this is a very unhealthy picture.”

A Defra spokesman said: “We are working hard to support our bees and other pollinators – as these species are essential for pollinating crops and in turn human survival.

“Through our 25 Year Environment Plan, we have already committed to developing a Nature Recovery Network to protect and restore wildlife, and our Biodiversity and National Pollinator strategies have helped to create over 130,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat.

“Furthermore the Bees Needs campaign brings together conservation groups, farmers, beekeepers to promote good practical advice so we can all do more to provide suitable habitats for bees and other insects.”

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