Bumblebee Conservation Trusts’ Bee Connected Project 2022

Bee Connected Project

Tilly Hopkins from Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s Bee Connected project, tells us about her and the Trust’s recent work for bumblebees! Your donations via our Bumblebee Conservation Trust seed packets help fund this sort of work for the Trust, enabling them to help the UK’s bumblebees.

My name is Tilly Hopkins and I’m a Trainee for the Bumblebee Conservation Trusts Bee Connected project. I currently work alongside Dr Nikki Gammans (Project Manager), Aydan Khan (fellow Trainee) and a number of dedicated volunteers. In this blog, I will give an overview outlining some of the bee-rilliant achievements the project has reached so far during its first six months from April to September 2022, as well as some of the work we’ve carried out in more recent months.

Melanistic dark-form Ruderal bumblebee (Bombus Ruderatus) on clover

What is the Bee Connected project?

If you’ve not heard of us before, Bee Connected is a partnership between Natural England and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. It’s a three-year landscape-scale restoration and species recovery project based on the South Kent and East Sussex coast, with a focus on four of our rarest species of bumblebee. The project is made up of:

Monitoring – A large number of BeeWalks, ad-hoc surveys and bumblebee blitzes are conducted throughout the season (March-October) to monitor all bumblebee species. This is done largely by project volunteers under the guidance of the Project Manager and project Trainees. BeeWalks are mostly established where habitat advice and works have been undertaken.

Landowner Liaison – The Project Manager gives bespoke advice to a variety of landowners in the project area to enable the restoration, creation and management of suitable bumblebee habitat. This habitat is important for supporting populations of bumblebee species present in the project area, for example, Ruderal (Bombus ruderatus), Red-shanked carder bee (B. ruderarius), Moss carder bee (B. muscorum) and Brown-banded carder bee (B. humilis).

Outreach – The Project Manager and Trainees run numerous ID workshops for volunteers and the public and conduct talks, walks and have stalls at events across the project area. This raises the project’s profile, generates contact with new landowners and volunteers, and raises funds.

Volunteers – The project has a large established volunteer base which continues to grow. Volunteers are involved in helping with all aspects of the project.


The Trust has had a presence in Dungeness since 2009 through the Short-haired Bumblebee Reintroduction Project, and as a partner with The Fifth Continent Project (led by Kent Wildlife Trust). Evidence from these projects show that three threatened bumblebee species most frequently encountered in the project area – Moss carder bee (B. muscorum), Brown banded carder bee (B. humilis) and Ruderal bumblebee (B. ruderatus) – all show increased abundance trends on sites where the project has carried out habitat advice and planting. B. ruderatus has increased most significantly, and Dungeness is now one of the best places in the country for the species. All three bumblebee species have been recorded returning to areas where they had not been seen for up to 25 years. Bee Connected is expanding further east towards Folkestone and further west into the High Weald of East Sussex, forming the main focus of our work.

Light-form Ruderal bumblebees (Bombus Ruderatus) in specimen pots

Main Achievements of Bee Connected

The main achievements of Bee Connected in the first six months include:

  • 1 supported Trainee, 3 new BeeWalks (74 now established across the project area), 5 new farmers (bringing the total to 58), and 5 new landowners (bringing the total to 70) who have received management advice (total 128). An additional approx. 294 ha of land has been advised on, alongside 11 miles of Network Rail track and 100 miles of B-roads – bringing the project total to approx. 3,100 ha.
  • 17 Habitat work parties delivered across 13 sites with volunteers and corporates.
  • Secured an additional £2,214 of funding for plants and seeds.
  • Collaborated with 39 partner organisations and voluntary groups.
  • Recruited a further 12 volunteers, supporting a total of 81. A total of 1,284 volunteer hours and an in-kind donation of £10,224.
  • Over 1,285 people attended 8 bumblebee identification workshops, 2 refresher sessions, 12 talks and 7 events.
Members of the Kent County Council Highways Department alongside Trainee Tilly at a B-roads habitat work party.

October to December 2022 – Sowing, Planting and BeeWalks!

Over the last three months (October-December 2022), Bee Connected has hosted its annual fundraising quiz, where, after expenses, over £400 was raised for the project.

The team expanded with new Trainee Aydan who started his role in January 2023.

We’ve donated bee-friendly plants, including White Dead-nettle and Comfrey, to a local landowner at Bainbridge Farm on the Marsh. We also donated Yellow Rattle seeds to small holdings in Newchurch, where new wildlife ponds have been created. We ran a habitat work party to sow Yellow Rattle and wildflower seeds at Little Cheyne Court Wind Farm, as well as planting Birds-foot Trefoil, Common Mallow, Scabious and Ox-eye Daisy. We’ve planted native bulbs of Snakeshead Fritillary, Snowdrop and Daffodil at a churchyard in Rolvenden, along with sowing Yellow Rattle seed to suppress grass growth and allow natural regeneration. We also visited an area of green space in front of flats in the village to plant more bulbs and plant out Birds-foot Trefoil, Common Mallow, Scabious and Ox-eye Daisy.

Bee Connected project volunteers attending the annual fundraising quiz in Ashford

We’ve joined local community group Woodchurch In Bloom to plant flowers at the village doctor’s surgery with help from staff members and volunteers. Plants included Pot Marigold, Buddleia, Rosemary, Shasta Daisies, Aquilegia, Primula, Cyclamen, Salvia and Tulips. We visited landowners at Little Monkings Farm near Rye to offer bumblebee habitat management advice and ideas for getting things started in the spring/summer months. We had a meeting with Tenterden Town Council, visiting various green spaces in the high-street, discussing ways to improve these amenity areas for the benefit of bumblebees, and offering bespoke habitat management advice and ideas for bee-friendly planting, seed sowing and hibernation/nesting sites.

We updated the project’s social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) from the original Short-haired Bumblebee Reintroduction Project to Bee Connected.

We’ve visited the Natural History Museum to attend their annual London Records Event and raise awareness of the Trust’s national BeeWalk survey scheme, with a newly designed promotional poster. We walked multiple BeeWalk transects for the final month of the season, including Newchurch churchyard, meadow, garden and playing field, Brooker Farm (Newchurch), Little Cheyne Court Wind Farm, Love Lane allotments (Rye), Hythe allotments, Hythe MOD ranges, Littlestone Golf Course, Dymchurch sea wall, various Environment Agency sites, Ruckinge village, small holding and canal, Black House Farm, Moneypenny Farm, Jo’s Café, Dymchurch playing field, private garden and churchyard, Brockhill Country Park, and the Woodchurch Rare Breeds Centre.

We ran our merchandise stall at Lullingstone Country Park as part of their Veteran Tree Open Day and we’ve visited a small holding in Newchurch to give bespoke bumblebee habitat management advice to the landowner. We also carried out habitat work at Dunstall Lane (near Dymchurch), strimming, raking, digging, planting and sowing Yellow Rattle and wildflower seeds.

Bee Connected project volunteers Gill, Joan and Brian alongside Trainee Tilly during a habitat work party at Dunstall Lane.

We’ve delivered our Plight of the Bumblebee talk to the Trefoil Society group in Beckley Village Hall, along with running our merchandise stall. We donated Lambs’ Ear plants to Led by the Wild Conservation and Community Garden Project. We ran two blitzes, including the final blitz of the season in Dungeness with a volunteer social gathering afterwards held at The Pilot Inn. At Ivychurch Village Hall we carried out habitat work, planting around 20 Lambs’ Ear, strimming back areas of long grass, and digging up weeds and thistles. We had a habitat work party along two local b-roads (Melon Lane and Lower Wall Road) on the Marsh, joined by project volunteers and external staff members from Every One of Us. We strimmed, raked, dug and planted out a range of bee-friendly plants including Common Mallow, Dwarf Comfrey, Birds-foot Trefoil, White Dead-nettle and Hedge Woundwort, as well as sowing Yellow Rattle seeds.

Bee Connected project volunteers Brian, Joan, Richard and Roger alongside Trainee Tilly, and Aimee and Sonia from Every One of Us during a habitat work party at two B-roads.

We visited the organic Bosney Farm in East Sussex to discuss natural regeneration, hay meadow management and increasing floral resources across the farm with the landowners. We carried out a site visit to Selmes field in Newenden to view the progress of a meadow restoration project led by one of our project volunteers. We donated more Yellow Rattle seed to help further reduce the grass density.

Keep Up to Date

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. If you’d like more information about Bee Connected, why not take a look at the project webpage here: www.bumblebeeconservation.org/bee-connected/. You can also follow us on our Facebook group (Bee Connected), Instagram page (@beeconnectedproject) and Twitter account (@nikkigammans) to view more photos and keep updated with the latest events and activities.

Brown-banded carder bee (Bombus Humilis) on meadow vetchling

2 thoughts on “Bumblebee Conservation Trusts’ Bee Connected Project 2022

  1. Good work Tilly and the wider team. I’ve had a great time volunteering with you all when I’m able to and have learned lots along the way. Looking forward to another year.

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