News Archive

Jun 17, 2016

TOE2 Funding Theme for 2016-2017 -Bumblebees

Trust for Oxfordshire TOE2would like to hear from projects that would benefit from grants to help the local bumblebee popopulation.



Why should we help bumblebees?

Bumblebees are endearing and familiar insects; their animated behaviour and deep buzz as they fly from flower to flower makes them a delight to watch.  But our bumblebees have been declining because changes in land management cultural practices have removed many flowers from the landscape, leaving bumblebees with little to feed upon. Most UK species have declined greatly in recent years, and two have become extinct in the UK since 1940.


We have 24 species of bumblebee in the UK, but only eight are found commonly. Bumblebees are found in a variety of habitats and most people should be able to attract them to their gardens or local public spaces if they have the right kinds of flowering plants.  By using green spaces and also gardens more effectively, we hope that everyone can get involved in making the landscape friendlier to bumblebees and other invertebrates, helping to reverse the declines we have seen.


People can also get involved in survey work. By doing this, we can see what bumblebees are present around the country, and how their distributions change over time. By monitoring the species like this, we can detect warning signs and take action to help.


The aims of having a Bumblebee theme:

  • To increase awareness of threats to bumble bees, and of the value of bumblebees. 
  • To encourage a broad range of projects in order to engage people in different ways.
  • To raise the profile of the need to create and manage habitats suitable for bumble bees and other invertebrates, both by creating natural habitats in suitable locations and by planting non-native species in more urban settings.
  • To work with partners to promote bumblebee conservation (eg; Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Buglife, TVERC, Wild Oxfordshire).
  • To increase awareness that projects that are good for bumblebees will also support other species including invertebrates and birds.

What sorts of projects can apply?

TOE2 has already supported a couple of bumblebee projects in the Chipping Norton area, which may provide ideas to potential applicants:

  • Creation of a wildflower grassland area at the town cemetery
  • Planting bumblebee friendly native and garden plants outside the new health centre

Here are a few other ideas for bumblebee projects:

  1. 1.       Improving the biodiversity of grassland habitats, for example:
  • Cutting back sward, scarifying and sowing with yellow rattle to suppress vigorous grasses, and sowing with other wildflower species
  • Sowing bumblebee flower mixes; suitable mixes are available for different soil and habitat types.
  • Collection of wildflower seeds from a particularly good site, and then sowing on a receptor site.  It is important to match donor sites with suitable receptor sites.
  1. 2.       Urban bumblebee gardens - In more urban situations, non-native herbaceous perennials can be planted at sites where there is public access.  These can be used to inform people about the need to plant for bumblebees and other species. 
  2. 3.       Planting orchards or improving species diversity and management of existing orchards
  3. 4.       Supporting community gardens and allotments by encouraging companion planting and also planting of herbs and even annual plants that are rich in nectar.  These sites would need to have public access.
  4. 5.       Planting of suitable species along field margins – at sites alongside rights of way.
  5. 6.       School bumblebee projects – TOE2 may be able to provide some support for school projects especially if they linked with a community based project.  School projects might involve setting up gardening clubs, Bee transects or creating a garden to attract pollinators.


All projects should try and ensure a long flowering period on their sites by using a range of species that flower at different times of year.

We would also like to see projects promoting what they are doing to engage more people with bumblebees and encourage more planting of nectar rich plants.

Important things to bear in mind

  • All projects will need landowner permission, and preferably landowner support.
  • Check what species are already present on the site; further information is available from the Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre (TVERC) –
  • TOE2 likes to support community based projects that involve local volunteers.
  • All projects would need to draw up a management plan to demonstrate ongoing sustainability. 
  • Annual plants could be encouraged but we would wish to support projects that are longer lasting than one year.  On sites where annuals are introduced an annual cultivation will be required.
  • Approach your local garden centre to see if they can support your project, perhaps by supplying suitable plants.  We would also like to see garden centres promoting bee-friendly plants to their customers.  A Garden Centre Pack created by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust is available from TOE2.

For further information

  1. TVERC (Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre) – TVERC can let you know if anyone else has reported seeing bumblebees in your local area. . If you carry out any bumblebee surveys or see any bumblebees, share your sightings with TVERC


  1. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT) has a lot of information about bumblebees, plant species and materials to promote projects.


  1. Check out the Buglife B-Lines project … Bug-Life are looking for partners to help deliver on-the-ground within the B-lines.  Applicants should check the Bug-Life B-Lines map for whether they’re in a B-line or not.

4.       ‘Creating a Buzz!’ - Oxford Friends of the Earth has launched a new toolkit for churches and other faith centres and communities, showing how people linked to any church, mosque, synagogue or other faith building can make the green spaces around them better for bees.  To download “Creating a Buzz - A toolkit for action for faith-based groups working for bees and other pollinators” go to


  1. Local advice on bumblebees and other invertebrates – TOE2 may be able to put projects in touch with locally based experts who will be able to provide advice on the best way to improve your local patch as a habitat for bees.



31 May 2016

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