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highlighting rare bees
Raising awareness of rare bees

To highlight the plight of the Bumblebee, Seedball have launched three new tin designs focussed on our rarest bumblebees, and launched to celebrate the ten year anniversary of the first Seedball tin in 2013.

The UK supports around 10% of the world’s species of bumblebee. These two dozen species play a vital role in pollinating  hundreds of millions of pounds of crops.

From the 1950s, scientists noticed bumblebee populations in the UK were in decline and three of the UK’s native bumblebees have become extinct due to lack of habitat. Eight of our remaining 24 bumblebee species still remain in serious decline.

As Seedball’s mission is to help and inspire more people to grow wildflowers in their gardens for pollinators, we wanted to use our anniversary tins to help to raise awareness about three declining British bumblebee species, and the need to keep scattering seed balls!

The loss of wildflowers and nesting sites are the main factors in wild bee loss. They also have to compete for forage with kept honeybees and bees bred for commercial purposes, so the more wildflowers we can grow, to help feed the bees, the better.

Great Yellow Bumblebee (Bombus distinguendus)

Only a hundred years ago this blonde beauty of a bee was found countrywide, however Great Yellow numbers have dwindled to a few sites in Scotland, on the wildflower habitat know as ‘machair’ (nutrient poor soil in which wildflowers thrive).

One of the easiest bumblebees to identify with a yellow body, single black band and head, in 2022, the Great Yellow bumblebee received a £4.2m lifeline from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Shrill Carder Bee (Bombus sylvarum)

One of the rarest and most threatened bumblebee species in England and Wales. Once widespread, it has recently become isolated to 5 sites.

With numbers worryingly low and declining, Save Our Shrills (SOS) project has been set to run for ten years from 2020. The project hopes to connect breeding sites with green belts or bee-lines of wildflowers, so that populations can connect and expand.

The bee gets its name from its high-pitched buzz, and is one of the smallest bumblebee. Pale greyish yellow with a black band of hair between the wings and reddish orange tail.

Find out more about the project and report any sightings:

Short-Haired Bumblebee (Bombus subterraneus)

This bumblebee was declared extinct in the UK in 2000, with its last reported sighting in Dungeness, thought to be due to loss of wildflowers.

Bumblebee Conservation set up a reintroduction programme with landowners across England from 2009 – 2022 working with farmers, conservation groups, and smallholders to create flower-rich habitat within the release areas of Dungeness and Romney Marsh in Kent and East Sussex.

This had a knock-on effect with three other rare bees, the Large Carder Bee, Brown-banded Carder Bee and the Ruderal Bumblebee being spotted on the protected sites as well.

Read more about the ten year reintroduction project here:

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