Britain’s rarest bee is under threat

July 7, (Agencies) | Publish Date: 7/7/2019 12:10:07 PM IST

 Britain's rarest bee is under threat because of habitat loss at the only location it is found.

The six-banded nomad bee, is clinging on at the cliffs of Prawle Point in South Devon. It used to be scattered across southern England but is now found in only one place.

Nomads are known as 'cuckoo' bees – as they lay their eggs in other bees' nests.

When the nomad's larva hatches, it eats the pollen stores that the host bee gathered for its own young.

The nomad's choice of host is the long-horned bee, which is threatened itself since it only feeds on a few wildflowers in the pea family such as everlasting pea and kidney vetch.

And while the long-horned bees haven't disappeared from the nomad's former range, the loss of the nomad indicates they have declined in numbers.

In the nomad's last refuge in South Devon, the cliffs provide the perfect habitat for long-horned bees to breed. But even here, both species are disappearing.

Farm fields have squeezed closer to the cliffs, removing legume-rich grasslands the long-horned bees depend on. If this continues, the nomad bee faces extinction in Britain. Now insect charity Buglife is looking to help by encouraging farmers to create wildflower margins near the cliffs to feed the long-horned bees and in turn save the six-banded nomad. 

(Daily mail reporter)

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