Somerset Wildlife Trust

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The Shrill Carder bee in Somerset

 24th Oct 2014

Shrill Carder BeeA new site for the Shrill Carder bee, so called because of its high pitched buzz, was discovered this summer by the Somerset Environmental Records Centre (SERC) in East Lydford. It has also been found recently in the local vicinity. This is fantastic news as the species is experiencing a considerable decline, both locally and nationally.

The Shrill Carder Bee

The Shrill Carder bee is a UK BAP (Section 41) species. It is however widely declining and is in danger of becoming extinct. This is partly due to habitat loss and fragmentation, and is highly vulnerable to development. It flies between May and September, and so can be adversely affected by early grass cutting as it needs forage late in the season. Like other Carder bees, it also needs areas of undisturbed long grass to nest in. 

Can you help?

Next year, if you’re out in Somerset, perhaps visiting the Somerset Wildlife Trust reserves, why not have a look for the Shrill Carder bee? To better understand its distribution and status, we need more people to keep a look out. The bee is known from scattered records across the county but is largely concentrated around the Somerset Levels (Bees Wasps and Ants Recording Society database). It can be found in flower-rich habitats such as sand dunes, heathlands and brownfield sites.

How to recognise it

Bumblebees can be identified by the colour patterns on their bodies. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust has an excellent on-line guide to common species to get you started:

The Shrill Carder bee is pale brown with an orangey tail, and has a distinctive black band across its thorax (its back). It is possible to confuse this with similar species however, such as the Common Carder bee. Bees can lose hair as they get older, revealing the black body underneath and this can resemble a black hair band at first glance.

What to do with your records

Please send your sightings to the Somerset Environmental Records Centre. We need to know the 4 W’s: who (the observer), what (the species), where (ideally as a 6 figure grid reference), when (the date). Please accompany your record with a photograph so that we can confirm the identification. The more pictures from different angles the better!

Follow this link to submit your sightings:
Or contact Cathy Horsley for more information

For more information on the Shrill Carder bee, follow these links:
Steven Falk’s Flickr site: shrill carder bee
BWARS species information sheet: Bombus sylvarum
Buglife's South West Bees Project
Bumblebee Conservation Trust Bees for Everyone Project

Photographs © Steven Falk