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Our work at Lytes Cary Manor estate

Bumblebee nectaring on comfrey near the burial site at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk
Bumblebee nectaring on comfrey | © National Trust Images/Rob Coleman

Lytes Cary Manor has been designated as one of only two exemplary sites in England for the endangered shrill carder bee. Discover what we’re doing to protect this endangered bumblebee.

Shrill carder bee

The little bumblebee with a big voice (it is named for its high-pitched buzz) is a priority species for conservation in England and Wales following significant declines since the 1950s.

It’s now nationally scarce, with populations restricted to five isolated locations in southern England and south Wales.

Like many of our bumblebees, numbers suffered due to the huge losses of flower-rich habitats since the end of the Second World War.

Improving the nest sites

The team at Lytes Cary worked to improve nest sites and food sources for this straw-coloured bumblebee, with its distinctive black stripes.

The work included propagating and planting out white dead nettle and comfrey – important nectar sources for adult bees.

Volunteers planted hundreds of plugs, as well as a mixture of wild flowers from seed including yellow rattle and black knapweed, which will act as a wider source of nectar and pollen for foraging worker bees.

‘We are looking at places where we can plant more comfrey and will be protecting key sites with flowers known to be good for the bees.’

- Mark Musgrave, Lead Ranger at Lytes Cary Manor

Choosing champion sites in the ‘Back from the brink shrill carder bee recovery project’ helps to highlight and celebrate where the species is doing well and gives us great case studies to help people to learn about positive management, which in turn helps to secure its long-term future.

The award from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Buglife recognises almost a decade of work from volunteers, staff and farm tenants.

As one of the largest landowners of flower-rich grasslands, the Trust’s involvement is crucial for the conservation and recovery of the species.

Bumblebee feeding from yellow rattle wild flower at Bath Skyline, Somerset
Bumblebee feeding from yellow rattle | © National Trust Images / Sara Strawson

‘Choosing champion sites helps to highlight and celebrate where the species is doing well and gives us great case studies to help people to learn about positive management, which in turn helps to secure its long-term future.'

- Sinead Lynch, Conservation Manager, Bumblebee Conservation Trust

The charismatic shrill carder bee is part of our natural heritage and along with other species, provides crucial pollination for crops.

Restoring grasslands

In the last 70 years, 97 per cent of flower-rich grasslands have been lost, including the wildlife, culture and history they sustained.

Since 2015, we’ve focused on restoring these habitats, which are so crucial for pollinators and wildlife.

To date, the Trust have created over 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres) of flower-rich grasslands as part of the strategy to reverse the fragmentation of wildlife-rich habitat and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Thank you

With your ongoing support, we're able to continue our vital conservation work. Thank you for helping to protect these special places.

Side view of The West Garden and the manor at Lytes Cary Manor, Somerset


As a charity, we’re relying on your support now more than ever. Your donation will help look after the places you love for everyone to enjoy and explore.

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