Free access
Volume 40, Number 3, May-June 2009
Bee conservation
Page(s) 367 - 387
Published online 07 July 2009
Apidologie 40 (2009) 367-387
DOI: 10.1051/apido/2009025

Bumblebee vulnerability and conservation world-wide

Paul H. Williams1 and Juliet L. Osborne2

1  Department of Entomology, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK
2  Department of Plant and Invertebrate Ecology, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Hertfordshire AL5 2JQ, UK

Received 6 October 2008 – Revised 13 January 2009 – Accepted 15 January 2009 - Published online 7 July 2009

Abstract - We review evidence from around the world for bumblebee declines and review management to mitigate threats. We find that there is evidence that some bumblebee species are declining in Europe, North America, and Asia. People believe that land-use changes may be having a negative effect through reductions in food plants in many parts of the world, but that other factors such as pathogens may be having a stronger effect for a few species in some regions (especially for Bombus s. str. in North America). Evidence so far is that greater susceptibility to land-use change is associated world-wide with small climatic ranges, range edges, and late-starting colony-development cycles. More evidence is needed on the roles of pollen specialization, nest sites, hibernation sites, and pesticides. It is still too early to assess the success of schemes aimed at improving forage in agricultural and conservation areas. However, schemes aimed at raising public awareness have been very successful. Until proven safe, we recommend that live bumblebees should not be moved across continents or oceans for commercial pollination.

Key words: bumblebee / Bombus / threat / vulnerability / decline / conservation

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2009