WALTHAMSTOW: Excitement over rare bee discovery at water works

A Moss Carder Bumblebee. Photo courtesy of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

A Moss Carder Bumblebee. Photo courtesy of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

First published in News East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter

THE discovery of a rare bumblebee at a water treatment works has given new hope to those studying Britain's under-threat bee population.


Thames Water has announced that several colonies belonging to Moss Carder Bumblebees have been found at their site in Coppermill Lane, Walthamstow.


Bee numbers have been sharply declining in recent decades, prompting international concern as an estimated one-third of the human diet relies on food produced via insect pollination.
 

Disease, poisoning from pesticides and a reduction in suitable habitats have all been identified as possible reasons.


It is thought the species has been attracted by the relative tranquillity of the sprawling site – which treats and pumps 560 million litres of water to homes across east London and Essex every day.


The colonies are underground in grassy areas of the complex and are only visible from small holes in the earth - about the size of a five pence piece – which the bees use as an entrance.


Cathy Purse, Thames Water's biodiversity engagement manager, described it as “an exciting discovery”.
 

She said: “We’re really lucky at Thames Water that we have these green spaces which attract so much wildlife.


“Often they're not accessible to the public so bees can buzz around the wild plants and flowers without being disturbed.
 

“When bumblebees as rare as these are discovered it's great news and because of secluded nature of the Thames Water sites they have a great chance of thriving."
 

It comes as the even rarer Shrill Carder Bumblebee, which is thought to be extinct in many parts of London, has also been discovered at a Thames Water works in Bexley.
 

Gill Perkins, conservation manager for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, said: “Finding such threatened bumblebees at the two Thames Water sites is great news, and it shows how important it is to forge partnerships between landowners and conservation charities and the need to carry out detailed surveys of key species.
 

“In the last 70 years two bumblebee species have become extinct and many more have declined rapidly.


“It’s easy to take them for granted, but without their work as pollinators, our crops would be less productive and our wildflowers would produce fewer seeds. We need our bumblebees”.

Comments (5)

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1:09pm Mon 8 Oct 12

Cornbeefur says...

I do not understand why Thames water do not have their own branded tap water as I have found out that a lot of bottled water sold as 'spring' is tap.

With this discovery of a rare bee colony, they could produce their own honey as well. they are a private company now and should do all they can for their Shareholders.
I do not understand why Thames water do not have their own branded tap water as I have found out that a lot of bottled water sold as 'spring' is tap. With this discovery of a rare bee colony, they could produce their own honey as well. they are a private company now and should do all they can for their Shareholders. Cornbeefur
  • Score: 0

11:28am Tue 9 Oct 12

hovis21 says...

Wonderful news! Waltham Forest Friends of the Earth has been working hard with others in the borough to highlight the importance of bees. It's brilliant to hear that a rare species has been found at the works. We hope the Moss Carder Bumblebee flourishes and spreads around the borough. Hopefully the bee-friendlp spaces we'll be planting in 2013 will help attract other species of bee too. We'd love to hear from anyone who'd like to help us with our work as we have lots of plans.
Wonderful news! Waltham Forest Friends of the Earth has been working hard with others in the borough to highlight the importance of bees. It's brilliant to hear that a rare species has been found at the works. We hope the Moss Carder Bumblebee flourishes and spreads around the borough. Hopefully the bee-friendlp spaces we'll be planting in 2013 will help attract other species of bee too. We'd love to hear from anyone who'd like to help us with our work as we have lots of plans. hovis21
  • Score: 0

5:37pm Tue 9 Oct 12

NDevoto says...

Always great to see busy bees out and about doing their work from flower to flower. Perhaps we might be able to spot these on their travels.
Always great to see busy bees out and about doing their work from flower to flower. Perhaps we might be able to spot these on their travels. NDevoto
  • Score: 0

5:47pm Tue 9 Oct 12

Walthamster says...

Bees are an important part of our ecosystem -- our life-support system -- so this is good news. And it's yet more evidence that we need to keep bits of 'wild' land: not only free of buildings but uncultivated and untidied-up. It may look unused to us, but it's essential to the survival of many other creatures. And if they die out, so eventually do we.
Bees are an important part of our ecosystem -- our life-support system -- so this is good news. And it's yet more evidence that we need to keep bits of 'wild' land: not only free of buildings but uncultivated and untidied-up. It may look unused to us, but it's essential to the survival of many other creatures. And if they die out, so eventually do we. Walthamster
  • Score: 0

1:06am Wed 10 Oct 12

Cornbeefur says...

Walthamster wrote:
Bees are an important part of our ecosystem -- our life-support system -- so this is good news. And it's yet more evidence that we need to keep bits of 'wild' land: not only free of buildings but uncultivated and untidied-up. It may look unused to us, but it's essential to the survival of many other creatures. And if they die out, so eventually do we.
I love bees and their honey, it is what life is all about?
[quote][p][bold]Walthamster[/bold] wrote: Bees are an important part of our ecosystem -- our life-support system -- so this is good news. And it's yet more evidence that we need to keep bits of 'wild' land: not only free of buildings but uncultivated and untidied-up. It may look unused to us, but it's essential to the survival of many other creatures. And if they die out, so eventually do we.[/p][/quote]I love bees and their honey, it is what life is all about? Cornbeefur
  • Score: 0

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