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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 March, 2005, 08:51 GMT
Saving Bees

Bumble bees are subject close to Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbull's heart! On the programme today we spoke to the author of a guide on how to spot and protect British bumblebees

The first comprehensive photographic field guide to the British bumblebee has been written by leading bumblebee authority, Mike Edwards, and Martin Jenner, who was on the programme this morning.

Martin said the guide is the first comprehensive, photographic guide to bees. It works by enabling bee spotters to follow three simple steps :

  • Step one - look for presence of and number of yellow bands on thorax and find on colour chart

  • Step two - cross check with pattern on abdomen and accompanying notes on colour chart

  • Step three - confirm identification with photographs and species accounts

    The new technique could help amateur naturalists and professional field workers in the front line of monitoring decades of decline in Britain's native bumblebees.

    The decline has been measured only for a few very rare species but it is clear from surveys that numbers of even the currently most abundant species have gone down.

    Since the 1970s some species have declined by over 60 per cent.

    This is because their natural habitats have been slowly reducing since the 1960s when modern farming was introduced. Flower rich habitats are reducing and therefore nectar - essential to the bees survival is becoming more scarce.

    The aim of the guide is to gain a general and more specific idea of insects - how they develop, how they live.

    The book is called : 'The Field Guide to the British Bumblebee'.

  • BBC Breakfast



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