Sunday 5 May 2019

Rare bumblebee to get boost from bilberries in cages

PUBLISHED: 00:04, 26 March 2019 | UPDATED: 00:04, 26 March 2019
One of the UK’s rarest bumblebees is being given a boost – by putting the flowers it feeds on in cages.
Conservationists and volunteers have planted 1,000 bilberry plants inside specially-designed metal cages that will protect them from grazing so they can provide food for the bilberry bumblebee in its Peak District stronghold.
The bilberries, which flower in the spring and early summer before heather and other moorland plants, are a vital food source for the bilberry bumblebee and its larvae.
But tender young bilberry plants are also a favourite of grazing animals such as deer and sheep, stunting the bushes’ growth and leading to a lack of mature plants that the threatened bee favours.
So bilberry has been planted across 60 acres of Hathersage Moor near Sheffield and protected by cages by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and the Eastern Moors Partnership between the RSPB and National Trust.
In the past, grazing pressure on the moor has led to a lack of mature bilberry bushes, and the new project will build on changes in how the land is managed – which has already seen bilberry begin to make a comeback.

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