Awareness of biodiversity
Status of biodiversity
Threats to biodiversity
Measures that safeguard biodiversity
Measures that mainstream biodiversity
Benefits derived from biodiversity and ecosystem services
Impacts on biodiversity outside of Ireland
Knowledge of Irish biodiversity
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Bumblebee populations are sensitive to changes in climate, land-use and agricultural practices at moderate to large spatial and temporal scales. Of the 98 bee species in Ireland, 20 are bumblebees. However, in terms of the numbers of individual bees, bumblebees typically comprise more than 80% of Irish wild bee communities, hence their prominence as our most important group of pollinating insects (Murray et al., 2012). At present, seven species bumblebee are under threat of extinction in Ireland (Fitzpatrick et al., 2006).
This indicator is derived from systematic monitoring schemes coordinated by the All-Ireland Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme and the National Biodiversity Data Centre in collaboration with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in Northern Ireland, and is first national-level bumblebee recording scheme in the world. Trailed in 2011 and running since 2012, the monitoring scheme currently has ca. 90 citizen-scientists distributed across the island of Ireland recording bumblebee species and abundance using a fixed-width transect count method along a 1-2 km route, each month between March and October. It is also a key component of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015-2020 in terms of tracking implementation of the Plan and its impact on our wild pollinator populations.
As the scheme matures, more rigorous statistical analyses of the population data will be possible as in the bird and butterfly multispecies indices. An initial analysis of the 17 species recorded in the monitoring scheme using the number of bees observed per transect per visit per year, the mean number of bumblebees observed per visit ± 95% confidence interval in 2012 was 20.6 ± 7.0, compared to 27.6 ± 12.9 in 2013, 18.8 ± 2.1 in 2014 and 17.5 ± 2.4 in 2015.
In terms of bumblebee community composition, the consistently most abundant were the cryptic species group of the white-tailed bumblebees B. lucorum agg. and the common carder bumblebee B. pascorum. Whereas, along with the cuckoo bumblebees Bombus (Psithyrus), the Great yellow bumblebee (B. distinguendus), the Mountain bumblebee (B. monticola), the Red-shanked carder bee (B. ruderarius) and the Shrill carder bee (B. sylvarum) were consistently the least abundant. The Large carder bee (B. muscorum), identified as of ‘vulnerable’ conservation status across Europe, was 6.4% of all bees recorded in the monitoring scheme in 2012, compared to 0.9% of all bees recorded in 2015.
More information on the All-Ireland Butterfly Monitoring Scheme can be found here:
More information on the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015-2020 can be found here:
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Regional Red List for Irish bees is available here: http://www.npws.ie/publications/redlists/
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) European Red List for Bumblebees is available here: http://www.iucnredlist.org/initiatives/europe/publications
More information on the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, U.K. can be found here:
Fitzpatrick, Ú., Murray, T.E., Byrne, A., Paxton, R.J. & Brown, M.J.F. (2006) Regional Red List of Irish Bees. National Parks and Wildlife Service (Ireland) and Environment and Heritage Service (N. Ireland). http://www.npws.ie/publications/redlists/Fitzpatrick_et_al_2006_Bee_Red_List.pdf
Murray, T.E., Fitzpatrick, Ú., Byrne, A., Fealy, R., Brown, M.J.F., Paxton, R.J. 2012. Local-scale factors structure wild bee communities in protected areas. Journal of Applied Ecology 49: 998-1008.
Bumblebee populations are sensitive to changes in climate, land-use and agricultural practices at moderate to large spatial and temporal scales, and provide the essential ecosystem service of pollination. This indicator is based on population trends of native bumblebees from the All-Ireland Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme co-ordinated by the National Biodiversity Data Centre.