UK army brought in to help save bumblebees.


Toby is the latest weapon in an effort to try to understand what is happening to Britain’s bumblebees. He is the world’s first bee-sniffing dog, trained by the army, and based at Stirling University, where researchers have a £112,000 grant to study the bees’ decline.

The trouble with bumblebees is that their nests are smaller than a honeybee hive and are often hidden underground. As few as 50 bees can live in one nest. One of the bees’ main predators is the badger, and it occurred to the Stirling team that if badgers could sniff out bee nests, then so could a dog. They approached the army and provided the funds to train Toby.

“If we are going to conserve them, we need to know more about them, where they live, what causes the nests to die,” says Professor Dave Goulson. It is absolutely crucial work, says Goulson. “Bumblebees are very important to the environment as pollinators of crops and flowers, but sadly they are struggling to survive in the modern world of habitat loss, pesticides and intensive agriculture,” he said.

“Further decline in bumblebees could result in a downward cycle of poorer harvests and sweeping changes to the countryside, as wild flowers set less seed and disappear, which, in turn, could have catastrophic effects for other wildlife.” Like honeybees, the British bumblebee is under threat. There used to be 25 different species of bumblebee in the UK. Three are extinct and up to seven more are close to extinction.

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6 Responses to UK army brought in to help save bumblebees.

  1. earthpal says:

    How ironic that intensive agricultural practises are helping to kill off a species that actually plays a vital role in agriculture.

  2. matt says:

    Bang on the button EP, as usual. Playing God comes to mind or just plain over extenting ourselves and still the GMO proponents say they have the answers …

  3. Comment from Canada:

    i’ve heard and read reports re the decline in numbers of bees in Canada, some sort of virus; nothing re bumble bees. i’ll keep my eyes open

    i certainly wouldn’t be surprised re a link to some of the various chemicals administered to crops here. we love our bloody chemicals.

    earthpal’s irony plays well in Canada too.

    gord h.

  4. matt says:

    I’d heard nothing regards bumble bees either but it makes sense that when the honey bees have been affected so will they. I have noticed a lot of dead bees around where I live. I’ve literally picked up half a dozen within minutes of going out my front door … and that didn’t seem right. Now I know why. It’s very worrying.

  5. earthpal says:

    Slightly unrelated, but I’ve been wondering where all the wasps are too. At this time of the year we usually get lot’s of manic wasps flying around but I haven’t seen a single one. Is it due to the cold Summer we’ve had?

  6. matt says:

    Don’t know but it probably is due to the wet weather we’ve been having. Temperatures have been about normal believe it or not but sunshine hours are 40% below average in August.

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