'Queen Bees need you’ – Royal Parks charity asks visitors to go bee-spotting

By Oliver Monk

20th Feb 2024 | Local News

Queen Bumblebees have struggled in recent years as rising temperatures lead them to emerge before enough flowers have bloomed to sustain them (Photo: The Royal Parks)
Queen Bumblebees have struggled in recent years as rising temperatures lead them to emerge before enough flowers have bloomed to sustain them (Photo: The Royal Parks)

The Royal Parks charity has put out a call to all visitors to help capture the first sightings of Queen Bumblebees, which are expected to come out of hibernation weeks earlier than normal due to climate change.

Between 21 February and 1 March, The Royal Parks is asking park visitors to take a photo of any bee they see and submit them online, noting the name of the Royal Park they were spotted in. 

Wildlife experts will then identify the species and confirm if the photo is of a Queen Bumblebee.

The Royal Parks monitors the arrival of the Queen Bumblebees, which are bigger and fluffier than regular bees, to ensure the parks are nectar rich and to shape planting species choices for the following year.

An example of a Queen Bumblebee (Photo: The Royal Parks)

Queen Bumblebees use most of their energy stores over winter, before typically emerging in spring towards the end of March due to a rise in temperature. 

The Royal Parks want tips on if the bees start awaking in late February, as many flowers won't have bloomed and the bee will struggle to find food.

The Royal Parks is once again turning to the public after last winter saw over 65,000 early spring bulbs being planted by volunteers ready for the Queens' arrival.

Alister Hayes, Head of Programmes, Volunteering and Conservation at The Royal Parks, has said that Queen Bumblebees have already been spotted in January. 

She commented: "This is incredibly early. If temperatures continue to rise, then we need to adapt to ensure our planting arrangements can support the wildlife in our parks."

The citizen science project has been made possible with help from People's Postcode Lottery funding (Photo: The Royal Parks)

The scheme has been put forward by the charity's citizen science-focused Help Nature Thrive team, which is funded in part by the People's Postcode Lottery.

Park-goers' pictures can be sent via The Royal Parks' Facebook, X or emailed directly to [email protected].

The Royal Parks suggest visitors looking for bees start around cherry blossom trees, willow trees, snowdrops and crocuses, while taking care to not disturb the insects.

You can find out more information about the bees local to the parks here.

     

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