Carmarthenshire's hedgerows are buzzing this week following confirmation that the rarely-sighted Ruderal bumblebee (poshly known as  Bombus ruderatus) has taken up residence on a foxglove near Brechfa.

This is one of the largest bumblebee species, and is thought to be largely restricted to the south of England, after a considerable decline throughout the 20th century.


Earlier this week two staff from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust found a number of newly emerged Ruderal bumblebee queens foraging on a foxglove near Brechfa in central Carmarthenshire.

And looking at Welsh records it seems that none have been recorded in Carmarthenshire since 1973.

The only Welsh sightings in recent decades are two or three scattered records of individual bumblebees in protected coastal locations.

The general presumption amongst bumblebee experts was that the Ruderal bumblebee (B. ruderatus) had largely disappeared from Wales.

“I’m absolutely thrilled that we’ve discovered the Ruderal bumblebee, such a rare and threatened species, so close to my home here in Carmarthenshire,” said Lawrence Harris, Wales Project Development Officer for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

“It was exhilarating to discover not just one, but nine queen bumblebees in a small area where we assumed the species had disappeared.”

It appears that the rare species is declining across its native European range.

It is of high conservation importance and now, with further surveys expected to take place, other populations may be discovered to aid this species conservation.

“What made this even more remarkable was that we weren’t formally surveying – we’d only just gone for a walk,” added Laawrence.

“But when you work for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust we naturally take a close look at any bumblebees flying past.

“We’re exploring a new project to help protect bumblebees and other pollinators in Carmarthenshire.

"It’s great to see such a rare bumblebee in an upland agricultural area and I can’t wait to work with our farmers, smallholders and communities to continue the search for the Ruderal bumblebee and ensure it can thrive across Wales.”

The records have been confirmed by experts from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and the Natural History Museum.