Brown-banded carder bumblebee at Croome

a brown baned carder bee

A rare bumblebee made a welcome appearance at Croome - the first official sighting in Worcestershire since 2010.

During a training day at Croome a Brown-banded carder bumblebee was spotted by Richard Comont from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. 

Volunteers and staff during training
croome volunteers during bumblebee training
Volunteers and staff during training

“It was fascinating to discover that there are 25 bumblebee species in Britain and to find out more about the ‘Big 8’ which are commonly seen in our gardens and green spaces. Thanks to our volunteer surveyors we will find out which species are most often seen at Croome" said Katherine Alker, Croome’s Garden and Outdoors Manager

The bee, the scarcest of the three all-ginger carder bumblebees, is found in open flower-rich grasslands in the south of England and Wales where it shows a strong preference for clover, knapweed, red bartsia and similar flower species.  Males, workers and queens are similar in appearance, ginger-brown all over with no clearly-delineated tail, often with a darker brown band on the second abdominal segment. 

After introducing ‘holistic grazing’ to the meadows in the parkland the once impoverished soil has slowly transformed into a healthy and natural environment teeming with wildlife which appears to be attracting this uncommon type of bee. 

Croome's wildflower meadows, a haven for bees
volunteers and staff searching the wildfower meadow for bees
Croome's wildflower meadows, a haven for bees

Thanks to a successful funding bid for training and research, we recently held a training day for staff and volunteers at Croome to learn about bumblebees.  Richard Comont from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust gave a superb training session in the morning and then the group ventured out into the park in the afternoon to see how good their new-found identification skills were.

Almost immediately they found a few common species – but then Richard was delighted to discover a Brown-banded carder bumblebee; a species which was first rediscovered in Worcestershire in 2010 after not being seen since the 19th century. 

“It was great to find the rare Brown-banded carder at a new site - hopefully the species will be here to stay. Over the next few months, volunteers will be surveying in the parkland hoping to spot good numbers and a range of species of bumblebees" said Richard Comont, Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

Richard Comont (right) and volunteers
Richard Comont and volunteers at Croome
Richard Comont (right) and volunteers