With the increasing climate crisis meaning loss of natural habitat across the board for all wild animals, we are often asked if bees are endangered or going extinct in the UK. The truth is that across the globe, bee numbers are declining at an alarming rate…
In the world there are over 20,000 different species of bee and they come in various different groups; the most well-known being the Apidae, which include honeybees and bumblebees. Bees in this group have a ‘hivemind’ as they work as a group - and usually the image most people concoct when they think about bees. However these only account for 2 in every hundred bees across the world. The rest are solitary bees who don’t live in a hive or have a queen, but often live underground and move nomadically when their home no longer suits. These bees have evolved over time to adapt quickly and easily to their changing surroundings. They are equally as important as the Apidae in pollination (bees as a whole species are responsible for almost 1/3 of the global food supply - read more about the importance of pollinators in our blog), and therefore are vital to the world’s eco system.
So what is happening and how can we stop it.
There are several main reasons for the decline in bee population. Colony Collapse Disorder (which is a problem closely related to honeybee decline), an increase in the amount of insecticides being used in farming is another argument for declining populations, loss of habitat due to deforestation and loss of wildflower gardens and fields around the world to make way for a more urban lifestyle and invasive species dominating the bees (you may have recently seen Asian hornets in the news!)
Which bees are endangered?
As of March 2020, there have been eight species of bee put on the endangered species list, including two types of bumblebee. Honeybees are not included in this list, however we have another blog about honey bees specifically and why their numbers are declining.
In the UK The Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT), a group of volunteers, have collected data from across the UK to monitor the bumblebees changing populations have shown concern for two types of bee; the Red-tailed Bumblebee and the Early Bumblebee. We’ll be watching these numbers closely over the next couple of years. To read more about Bumblebees going extinct, check this link to National Geographic here.
How can we help?
Repollinate, our charity, aims to combat this by helping boost one of the main causes of decreased pollinator numbers - providing natural wildflower spaces for pollinators to thrive. We’re really proud of our work!
Mainly, we’d encourage you to not kill bees and to try and help build bee/pollinator-friendly habitats in your gardens. Stop using insecticides when gardening, and buy bee friendly products instead.