Northampton town centre survey finds 50 bee species

Solitary bee Image copyright Hilary Erenler
Image caption Osmia rufa was one of the species of solitary bee found during the survey

Researchers have found twice as many species of bee as they were expecting in Northampton town centre.

The University of Northampton found 50 species of solitary bee last year within a 500m radius of All Saints Church.

Professor Jeff Ollerton, project co-ordinator, said: "I thought we'd find 20-30 species, so to find that many was truly exceptional."

The study was carried out to monitor levels of biodiversity.

Mr Ollerton said: "Part of it is about conservation, because biodiversity underpins a significant amount of pollination of our fruit and vegetable crop.

Image copyright Prof Jeff Ollerton
Image caption The solitary early mining bee was found within 500m of All Saints Church in Northampton town centre

"The study didn't look for the wild, social bumblebees, which are already well documented, so the true figure is likely to be more than 60 species."

The UK has one species of honey bee, 24 species of bumblebee and about 240 species of solitary bee.

Earlier this year, it was estimated 10% of Europe's 2,000 bee species were threatened with extinction.

'Important habitats'

The study found the bees on road verges, traffic islands, grass patches and business sites.

Brian Eversham, chief executive of the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, said: "It is a surprise to find so many species in an urban centre.

"There have been very few bee surveys that go into this much detail, so we now know more about bees in Northampton than almost any other town or city in the UK."

Darryl Cox, information officer for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, said: "Urban spaces are becoming more important for pollination, because there is a lack of diversity in flora on our farmland.

"About 97-98% of wildflower-rich meadows have disappeared since the 1930s, so bees will go to where the flowers are in our towns and cities.

"Private gardens are becoming increasingly important habitats."

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites