Things are buzzing at Victory Wood!
The first day of September saw the return of what is becoming an annual bee walk survey at one of our most beautiful Kentish sites. Rescheduling due to the bad weather in August, obviously group sizes were restricted in comparison to last year due to social distancing and other guidance on the Covid pandemic. Assistant Site Manager, Claire Inglis, fills us in on the team’s exciting findings…
“We didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to survey the site for rare and scarce bees at this peak time, especially given that we had good numbers of Shrill carder bees (Bombus sylvarum), Brown-banded carder bees (Bombus humilis) and Red-shanked carder bees (Bombus ruderarius) last summer and it is just as well we went ahead- the weather was lovely and perfect for bee spotting!
A small number of volunteers and staff attended from the Woodland Trust and Bumblebee Trust. We spread out into different areas of the site and people used their own equipment and were able to discuss findings with trained staff to confirm ID where needed. Many of these volunteers already conduct BeeWalk transects at other sites on a monthly basis so are pretty expert in their knowledge! It was great to learn from one another and see such enthusiasm for species recovery and conservation work.
We are happy to report that we have some impressive results once again! As you can see from the stats recorded in the table below, Victory certainly seems to be delivering the goods for Shrill carder bees! We didn’t find any Red-shanked carder bees this time around, but this would have been unlikely given its quite late now for sightings of that species. We did have our first record of a Southern cuckoo bumblebee (Bombus vestalis), which is associated with southern near-coastal locations, alongside a very special sighting of a late Brown-banded carder bee queen who will be getting ready to overwinter. This is particularly encouraging as it means that this species will complete a full nest cycle at Victory this year.
We are in the process of finalising a new on-site interpretation panel which the Bumblebee Trust have kindly funded, which will help visitors to learn more about the importance of sites like Victory for the Shrill carder bee, amongst other rare and scarce bumblebee species which benefit from this mosaic, near-coastal landscape. We have really enjoyed working with the ‘Making a Buzz for the Coast’ project, and, although their project is nearing its end, we very much hope to continue with this important work to support and monitor pollinators both on site and within the local landscape, whilst providing opportunities for volunteer training and community engagement events around this theme.
Final stats for the survey:
|Species||Common name||Count of female||Count of male||Count of unknown||Totals|
|Bombus humilis||Brown-banded carder bee||6 + 1 queen||9||16|
|Bombus lapidarius||Red-tailed bumblebee||1||17||18|
|Bombus pascuorum||Common Carder bumblebee||28||10||3||41|
|Bombus sylvarum||Shrill carder bumblebee||79||15||94|
|Bombus terrestris/lucorum||Buff-tailed bumblebee||7||15 (terrestris)||5||27|
|Bombus vestalis||Southern cuckoo bee||1||1|
Words and photographs: Claire Inglis (Assistant Site Manager – Kent)
Edited by Anna Claxton, Volunteer Development Officer (SE)