One of the UK's most threatened bumblebees rediscovered on South Devon coast

The brown-banded carder bee has been rediscovered in South Devon Credit: Steven Falk

One of the UK's most threatened bumblebees thought to be extinct in the South West has been rediscovered on the South Devon coast.

The brown-banded carder bee was rediscovered as part of the Life on the Edge project.

The aim of the project is to restore populations of some of the UK's rarest invertebrates and plants along the South Devon Coast between Berry Head and Wembury.

The project will enable the recovery of more than 30 threatened species including the last known colony of the six-banded nomad bee and the long-horned bee.

Long-horned Minning Bee. (left) Six-banded nomad Bee (right) Credit: John Walters & Steven Falk

Life on the Edge conservation officer Hayley Herridge said: "We are delighted that a species lost, has been rediscovered at Prawle Point for the first time since 1978.

"Prawle Point is considered the most important location for rare invertebrates in our project area and this highlights how special it is.”

What does the bee look like?

The brown-banded carder bee is an all-ginger bumblebee species that requires open flower-rich grasslands where there are lots of wildflowers the favourite flowers of this species of bee include clovers, bird’s-foot trefoil and knapweeds.

How was the bee discovered?

The brown-banded carder bee was identified as part of a wider survey effort to better understand these special species and future nature-friendly farming practices. The project is still in its development stage and won't start fully until April 2024. It will run until 2029.

Life on The Edge project manager Rob Skinner said: “This is a fantastic and highly important find. It shows that our Life on the Edge project is already delivering, boosting our knowledge of these special insects, we look forward to more finds as the project develops.”