Big Bee project: restoration and management of bumblebee habitat in agricultural landscapes

The Big Bee project was a large-scale experiment to investigate the effects on bumble bees (Bombus spp.) of nectar flower mixtures sown under the Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) agri-environment schemes (AES) recently adopted in England, as there had been little evidence for how the area of flower mixtures sown, or landscape context in which they are provided, can affect their success. The experiment was conducted at 8 sites across central and eastern England and ran from 2004 - 2008. A wide range of data was collected, including GIS maps of land-use and habitat quality, count data giving density estimates for bumblebees and flowers, estimates of colony numbers for Bombus pascuorum and Bombus lapidarius, and data on pollen load composition for B. pascuorum and B. lapidarius. The project was funded by Defra and Natural England and was led and coordinated by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in collaboration with Rothamsted Research and the Institute of Zoology, London.

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