Shrill Carder Bees: Welcomed to a New Country Home

Shrill Carder Bees: Welcomed to a New Country Home

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 

Hebrews 13:2

Use hospitality one to another without grudging. 

1st Peter 4:9
SHRILL CARDER BEE on flower

As a miniature bumblebee variety, the Shrill Carder Bee has been given a new opportunity to thrive in the British Isles.(1),(2)  This black-banded but otherwise yellowish bumble bee—also known as the knapweed carder-bee—is widespread in northern Europe, but for decades it has been rare within the British Isles.(3)  A group of leading conservationists have committed to work together to save the rarest bumblebee in England and Wales, the Shrill Carder Bee (Bombus sylvarum).

From [14 July 2020] more than 30 organisations and dozens of individuals, including conservation charities, government bodies, volunteers, farmers, and businesses, will collaborate on a multi-year vision to create a landscape where Shrill carder bee populations can survive and thrive. The group will be guided by the newly published Shrill carder bee conservation strategy. The strategy was developed through a collaborative process led by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, working with Buglife. … Loss and fragmentation of habitat is a key threat isolating Shrill carder bee populations in England and Wales. It now only exists in five isolated population areas: the Thames Estuary, Somerset, the Gwent Levels, Kenfig–Port Talbot, and south Pembrokeshire.(2)

[ see Bumble Bee Conservation Trust citation below ]

For nectar and pollen, this bee (a/k/a Knapweed Carder-Bee”) prefers knapweed, a purplish thistle-like flower, also called “star-thistle”.

This bee also favors clover and vetch (both being flowering legumes that supports the nitrogen cycle in open-field food webs), as well as other herbs, weeds, and flowers that grow in grassy meadows and rural hayfields. 

SHRILL CARDER BEE Ray Reeves photo credit

Shrill carder bees emerge from June to October, so the aim is to create habitat that will be a haven of late blooming wildflowers for the bees to forage from. These bees are known to thrive on flowers from the pea, daisy, mint and [snapdragon-like Orobranche] plant families. They currently only exist in five isolated areas of the UK, including Somerset. Ham Hill Country Park is run by South Somerset District Council. Cabinet member for environment, Sarah Dyke, said: “As the number one pollinators, bees are essential to our eco system, and so it’s incredibly important that we create areas to support them wherever possible.”(1)

[ see BBC News citation below ]

Of course, as rural hayfields and grassy meadows shrink and disappear, so do the bee populations. Accordingly, introducing these bees into new meadows and hayfields can become a new opportunity for a shrill carder bee colony’s habitat.

Shrill carder bee on knapweed flower
SHRILL CARDER BEE on KNAPWEED flower
(Bob Gibbons / Science Source photo credit)

Now, thanks to efforts of the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust, Natural England, Buglife, Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru (Natural Resources Wales), and others, these miniature bumblebees will have a new home range in Somerset, within a country park where “dense grassy meadows” provide a welcome habitat.(1)

A country park in Somerset is creating habitats aimed at allowing a rare species of bee to thrive. Ham Hill Country Park rangers will leave dense grassy tussocks to grow in the hay meadows. They hope shrill carder bees can forage, nest and hibernate there. Countryside manager Rachael Whaites said the work would also help other pollinating insects, small mammals, reptiles and birds. The work is in partnership with the Bumble Bee Conversation Trust. “We hope the shrill carder bee takes up residency on Ham Hill so that we can help to safeguard it as part of the British countryside for the future,” said Ms Whaites. Shrill carder bees emerge from June to October, so the aim is to create habitat that will be a haven of late blooming wildflowers for the bees to forage from.(1)

[ see BBC News citation below ]

As their name suggests, Shrill Carder Bees produce a high-pitched buzzing sound as they busily go about gathering nectar, pollinating whatever flowers they visit in the process.(1),(2) And pollinating is very serious business, for both the pollinators and the pollinated. Yet also, pollination is important for all of the indirect beneficiaries of pollination’s food-web effects, which include honey products that we consume.(4),(5)

And honeycomb, according to Luke, can even remind us that the Lord Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, bodily, with a resurrection body—capable of eating honey.(5)

Bombus sylvarum - Pedicularis sceptrum-carolinum - Niitvälja bog.jpg
SHRILL CARDER BEE on Moor-king Lousewort, in Estonia
(Wikipedia photo)

REFERENCES

  1. Staff writer. 2020. “Yeovil Hay Meadow Foraging Ground Boost for Rare Bees”, BBC News (July 28, 2020), posted at bbc.com/news/uk-england-somerset-53565256?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.com/news/science_and_environment&link_location=live-reporting-story .
  2. Staff writer. 2020. “Conservationists Come Together to Save the Threatened Shrill Carder Bee”. Stirling (Scotland), U.K.: Bumble Bee Conservation Trust (July 14, 2020), posted at https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/shrill-carder-bee-conservation-strategy-published/#more-22290 .
  3. The Shrill Carder Bee is listed in the United Kingdom Biodiversity Action Plan of 1994, which implements aspects of the Convention on Biological Diversity treaty (of 1992-1993), which was the result of the Rio Earth Summit event during 1992. See Page, S. S. Lynch, V. Wilkins, et al. 2020. A Conservation Strategy for the Shrill Carder Bee, Bombus sylvarum, in England and Wales 2020-2030. Stirling (Scotland), U.K.: Bumble Bee Conservation Trust, especially pages 4-13, posted at https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/BBCT146-SCB-Conservation-Strategy-2020-2030-06.20.pdf .
  4. Johnson, James J. S. 2020. “Honeybees: How Sweet It Is, Again”. Creation Science Update (July 6, 2020), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/honeybees-how-sweet-it-is-again .  See also Sherwin, Frank J. 2019. Bee Brains Aren’t Pea Brains. Creation Science Update (July 11, 2019), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/bee-brains-arent-pea-brains . Regarding nocturnal non-bee pollinators, see Tomkins, Jeffrey P. 2020. “Secret Life of Moths Vital to Plant Life”, Creation News Update (May 28, 2020), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/secret-life-of-moths-vital-to-plant-life .
  5. The Bible reports honey as a nutritious and valued food (Genesis 43:11; Exodus 3:8; Deuteronomy 8:8; Proverbs 24:13; Psalm 119:103; etc.). Honey was consumed by Samson, Jonathan, and John the Baptist (John 14:8-9; 1st Samuel 14:25-29; Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6). The ultimate example of honey’s importance occurred when the risen Christ ate honeycomb, with broiled fish, to prove unto His disciples that He really was truly resurrected in His physical body (Luke 24:36-43).

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