Established in 2011 as part of the Irish Pollinator Initiative, the Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme supports and co-ordinates a network of volunteers across the island of Ireland.  In collaboration with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in Northern Ireland, the scheme now records >13,000 bumblebees from >100 sites each year.

Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme sites in 2016
Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme sites in 2016

Bombus lapidarius, Les Reed, Kilkenny 06/08/2013
Bombus lapidarius, © Les Reed, Kilkenny 06/08/2013

Why do we need a bumblebee monitoring scheme?

In 2006 the Regional Red List of Irish Bees found that, of the 20 bumblebee species found in Ireland, 6 are current under threat of extinction with a further 3 of ‘near threatened’ status. Therefore, 30% of our bumblebee species are now under threat with another 15% heading in the same direction.  Across Europe, 24% of bumblebee species are under threat and in North America, since 1900 species have been lost from 23-87% of the areas they previously inhabited.

Bumblebees are Ireland’s most important wild pollinators, but we don’t know how many of our rare bumblebee species have declined or how our more widespread species are coping. By monitoring our bumblebee populations, we can identify species who need our help the most and detect the early warning signs of a general threat to wild bees and to Irish pollination services.

Bumblebees are also sensitive indicators of how Ireland’s landscape and climate is changing. Therefore, the Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme is an ideal tool for individuals, community groups and professional land managers to measure change in their local biodiversity. The ongoing recording of bumblebee communities provides a sensitive metric against which changes in land-use and its impact on our biodiversity can be monitored.

 

How can I monitor bumblebees?

All the details about how to start monitoring butterflies can be found in our Get involved section.

 

Who can monitoring bumblebees?

Everyone can take part in monitoring bumblebees, from bumblebee beginners to experienced recorders.  Take a look at our Get involved section.