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Supporting Bumblebees

We are truly delighted and proud to publish this guest article written especially for us by The Bumblebee Conservation Trust. It is one of the most important and necessary pieces any preserve manufacturer can publish because support for Bumblebees is absolutely vital if we are to continue to purchase, gather and enjoy the fruits of their labours.

Bumblebees are prolific pollinators and many of the fruit and vegetables that we can take for-granted only exist because of the work of these iconic and industrious insects.

We need to protect, maintain and recreate their natural habitats such as meadows, hedgerows, roadside verges and waste ground, supporting their pollen and nectar gathering activities, so they will in turn continue to pollinate our field crops, orchards, allotments, gardens and greenhouses to ensure the abundant variety of fresh foods that sustain our health and wellbeing.

We extend our grateful thanks to Bumblebees and wholeheartedly support The Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

Introduction

Gardeners have long known the importance of bumblebees. These wild bees are iconic insects, providing a vital “free-bee” service by pollinating the food on our plates, plants in our garden and wildflowers in our greenspaces.

There are 24 species of bumblebee in the UK, representing approximately 10% of the world’s bumblebee species. Sadly, the story of bumblebees has been one of decline, and in the last 100 years, 3 species have become extinct and 8 are in serious decline.

These declines are down to a number of reasons but mainly the loss of 97% of wildflower meadows to intensive agriculture and urban development since the 1930’s.

What’s the buzz about bumblebees?

While Rosebud Preserves are supporting the bumblebees through donations from their Blackberry & Sloe Gin Jam, Midsummer Jam and Tomato & Chilli Jam, the bumblebees are supporting them right back!

Anyone who has taken a stroll along a hedgerow during the spring and summer months will have heard the buzz of bumblebees moving from flower to flower collecting nectar and pollen, and performing a service essential for so many of our fruits and vegetables – pollination.

Starting in spring, one of the first UK trees to blossom is hawthorn. These flowers are a brilliant source of energy for queen bumblebees emerging from their winter hibernation, and go on to produce a fruit that has become a gin staple, the sloe.

Close on the heels of the hawthorn, Rosemary bushes start to flower and along with many of our culinary garden herbs will always receive plenty of attention from bumblebees! The Red-tailed bumblebee, one of the ‘Big 7’ widespread and abundant species, can be seen topping up her energy on Rosemary bushes. A full ‘tank’ of nectar will only keep a bumblebee flying for up to 45 minutes.

Moving into early summer bumblebee workers visit the white blooms of tangled bramble bushes, paving the way for an abundant crop of blackberries in late summer and autumn. These hedgerow fruits are not only tasty kitchen ingredients, but also provide sustenance for birds and small mammals.

Strawberries, raspberries and other soft fruits have long been a symbol of summer (think Wimbledon!) An increasing number of studies show that strawberry, currant and raspberry flowers pollinated by the humble bumblebee produce better quality fruit, and boosts the abundance and yield because their furry bodies transfer more pollen between the plants than other pollinators.

Those with greenhouses will have almost certainly tried their hand at growing tomatoes and chilli plants. Did you know that in the UK, bumblebees are the only insect capable of pollinating tomato and chilli plants? Using ‘buzz pollination’ a bumblebee will curl its body around the flower and vibrate its flight muscles at precisely the right frequency the flower needs to give up its pollen and which is then transferred to neighbouring plants on the bumblebee’s bodies. And you can’t fail to hear the distinctive, high-pitched buzz of a bumblebee doing buzz pollination!

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust

Here at the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, our vision is a world where bumblebees are not only thriving, but valued for their incredible contribution to our society.

We exist on the generosity of others, so donations from our fantastic supporters – like Rosebud Preserves – are vital in enabling us to carry out our essential work, reversing bumblebee declines and protecting these invaluable pollinators. With their help we can collect data on bumblebee populations across the UK, and share our knowledge to positively influence decision makers; work with farmers and landowners to create and restore much needed bumblebee-friendly habitat; and inspire a diverse range of people to take action for bumblebees.

A huge buzzy thank you to Rosebud Preserves for this guest blog spot and for their wonderful support for our work!

from the team at the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/