Entomologist Steven Falk sent me this press release which I reproduce in full.
“East Sussex downland bees and wasps get a health check
A major study of the bees and wasps of fifteen downland sites in East Sussex was recently completed and the image-rich report is now available from the websites of the Bee, Wasp & Ant Recording Society:
and the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre:
227 species of bee and wasp were recorded including many rarities. Most notable amongst these was a solitary bee called Halictus eurygnathus which had not been seen in Britain since 1946 and was considered nationally extinct. But reports of its demise were clearly premature as it was eventually found at seven sites. Females rely very heavily upon Greater Knapweed as a pollen source, and with this new information, it should be possible to conserve it and hopefully help it to spread. The study also revealed the important role that arable field margins, flowery fallow fields and blossoming shrubs such as Blackthorn play in supporting bees on the downs. One of Britain’s rarest mining bees Andrena niveata was found to forage primarily from flowers of Charlock and Hedge-mustard at the edges of Rape crop, a relationship that had not been noted anywhere previously. But the study also revealed that some species are in trouble in East Sussex including Britain’s largest mining bee Andrena hattorfiana which forages on scabiouses. The study also failed to rediscover Culluman’s Bumblebee which was last recorded in Britain in 1926 and seemingly had a good population in the Seaford area.
The work was carried out by Warwickshire entomologist Steven Falk, who also recorded the flies present, which will be subject to a future report. Hopefully the study will help the various landowners and land managers of the South Downs to promote these important insects, especially given the growing international concern regarding declining pollinators. Steven is also keen to encourage local naturalists to investigate less popular insect groups of the Downs.”
This is an important piece of research, as will be the follow-up on diptera associated with these chalk downland sites. It’s only through the efforts of people like Steven and the countless other volunteers in BWARS, the other Recording Societies, and the spectrum of NGOs that are working to conserve nature around the country that we know what’s happening to our wildlife, and understand better how to ensure it’s future survival.