Volunteers will make a beeline for meadows

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TEN new voluntary roles are being offered by a countryside charity to monitor and record bumblebee numbers and movements in the Yorkshire Dales in the first study of its kind in the national park.

Two species of Britain’s bumblebees have become extinct in recent decades and the remaining 24 species have shown a dramatic decline, some by as much as 80 per cent, according to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

Habitat loss is the main reason for the decline, bee experts at the trust say. Since the 1930s, 97 per cent of the UK’s wildflower hay meadows – an area the size of Wales – have been lost. Only 1,000 hectares of upland hay meadow still exist, half of which are found in the upland dales of North Yorkshire, Cumbria and County Durham.

To help maintain important national records to chart bumblebee numbers, the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) hopes to recruit volunteers over the next two years as part of a project called “A Buzz in the Meadows”. As well as documenting population numbers, volunteers will monitor which wildflowers they visit in meadows across the Dales.

The findings will be shared
across the farming industry by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust with the intention of
 influencing future environmental policies. It is hoped that the data gathered will also show how the restoration of hay meadows affects bumblebee populations. Call the YDMT on 015242 51002.