Date for the diary: 25-26th August, Annual Recorders’ Event, Roscommon!

This year we will be holding two annual field meetings for everyone who participates in the bumblebee and butterfly monitoring schemes.  One in Wexford focussing on the Essex Skipper on the 28-29th July (details here) and another in Roscommon the 25-26th August focussing on the endangered Shrill Carder bee (Bombus sylvarum).

(C) Peter Harvey
Shrill Carder Bee (Bombus sylvarum)

Like the previous annual recorders’ meeting focussing on the Great Yellow Bumblebee (B. distinguendus), we’ll aiming to survey in and around calcareous grasslands and eskers in southern Roscommon to locate populations of the Shrill Carder bee. The goal of the workshop is to highlight the plight of this beautiful but cryptic bee and establish more transects targeting this species. On the 25th we’ll have introductory talks on its biology and ecology in Ireland, followed by guided walks across sites where the species was known to be in abundance, and then a ‘team challenge’ to locate the bees at sites where it may be but has yet to be recorded.

As always, you’re welcome to join us for a meal in the evening in Gullane’s Hotel, Ballinasloe, and take the opportunity to socialise afterward. The following morning on Sunday 26th will then be a general recording day for both bumblebees and butterflies finishing up at lunchtime.

The meeting is free to attend but spaces will be limited, so if you’d like to provisionally book your place please email me specifying which days (Saturday/Sunday) you’d like to attend and whether you’d like to join us for dinner on Saturday evening. A detailed itinerary of the weekend will be available for download in the coming weeks.


2018 Our latest newsletter is available for download

We collectively spent 491 hours, walked 883 km and recorded 12,969 bumblebees last year, but how did our bumblebees fare in 2017? To find out, click on our latest newsletter below.

2018 February Newsletter
2018 February Newsletter

2018 Monitoring Scheme Workshops

Here is the current list of our bumblebee monitoring scheme workshops in 2018. There is a limited series of workshops this year we’ll be providing an increasing number of workshops to partners on the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. On the day we cover all aspects of the monitoring scheme including species identification, use of the online data capture system and an afternoon outside putting the skills into practice. Hope to see you there!


Offaly: 14th April, 11am – 4pm. Tullaghmore, Scoil Mhuire, Kilcruttin.

Booking: Ray Carroll, Tullaghmore Tidy Towns,


Meath: 28th April, 11am – 4pm. Navan, St. Columban’s Dalgan Park.

Booking: Tomás Murray,


Dublin: 3rd May, 10:45 am – 3 pm. Marlay Park House, Marlay Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16.

Booking: Lorraine O’Hara, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Co. Council,


Roscommon: 9th June, 11am – 4pm. Castlecoote, St. Ciaran’s Community Centre.

Booking: Corina Hand, Roscommon Co. Council,


Ireland’s Next Top Bumblebee!

Amid concerns about declines in Irish bees, one hardy bumblebee is bucking the trend and has just arrived in Ireland.  This month the Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum) was spotted by Michael O’Donnell on the 14th September in St. Stephen’s Green foraging on Rudbeckia.  We’ve had a series of unconfirmed sightings of this bee over the past few years, so we’re delighted that: a) it has finally been confirmed and we can welcome a new pollinator to our shores; b) that it was by one our excellent volunteers in the Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme and c) it was on one of the pollinator-friendly plants we’ve been recommending for urban plantings in the Pollinator Plan!

Photo by Michael O’Donnell, 14/09/2017

Arriving in southern England from France in 2001, the Tree Bumblebee has rapidly spread by over 50 km per year across Britain and has now finally crossed the Irish Sea. The Tree Bumblebee is a common and widespread species in continental Europe, and its rapid spread throughout Britain and now into Ireland is believed to be due to its unique approach to nesting.  Unlike most bumblebee species which make their nests at ground level, in long grass or in old abandoned rodent nests, Tree Bumblebees nest in holes in trees or other similar structures and are commonly found in empty bird boxes.  It also tends to specialise on early flowering trees such as Apple, Blackthorn, Hawthorn and Willow; floral resources that our other bumblebees do use but do not tend to specialise upon.

The All-Ireland Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme is now in a unique position worldwide in that we have an existing bumblebee monitoring scheme in place prior to the arrival of a new bumblebee!  Between our network of recorders and bumblebee monitors, we’ll be able to collectively draw a detailed picture of the spread of a new bumblebee within our pollinator communities and what impact this may or may not have.  So keep your eyes peeled for something that may initially look like a Common Carder Bumblebee (B. pascuorum), but with black hairs on it’s head and abdomen and a white tail.  It is commonly associated with parks and gardens, and is frequently encountered nesting in bird boxes or similar cavities relatively high off the ground, quite unlike our other species.

Finally, for anyone still wishing to find a ‘first’ for Ireland, there’s another bee we’d like you to look for too!


Past monitoring scheme events and workshops