Focus on the birds and bees...

Gardeners are being encouraged to keep an eye on the birds and the bees this summer after the forging of a partnership between two wildlife organisations.

Gardeners are being encouraged to keep an eye on the birds and the bees this summer after the forging of a partnership between two wildlife organisations.

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust has teamed up with the Thetford-based British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) to help discover more about Britain's most endearing insects.

By enlisting the help of the trust's army of 16,000 Garden BirdWatchers, researchers hope to track the changing fortunes of the bumblebee.

The link-up results from a lack of recorders and gaps in knowledge about our native bumblebee species. Some are believed to be declining while others appear to be thriving.

BTO members are now being asked to make a regular bumblebee count in their gardens along with birds, mammals, amphibians and butterflies.

Mike Toms, Garden BirdWatch organiser, said the two organisations had produced a chart to help people identify the 14 different species of bumblebee. He added: “We are delighted to be able to help with this work. Gardens are an important habitat for wildlife and, on average, provide far more flowers than agricultural land. This makes them ideal places in which to monitor the changing fortunes of our more widespread bumblebees.”

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Prof David Goulson, co-founder of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, said: “By raising awareness of bumblebees in gardens, we also hope to encourage more bee-friendly gardening.”

A free information pack is available. Write to Garden Bumblebee Pack (BTO), FREEPOST IH2784, Norfolk, IP24 2BR, or call 01842 750050.