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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Restore heathland Bee Conservation

Key messages

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One small trial of early-stage lowland heath restoration activity did not have an adverse effect on bumblebee diversity at one site in southeast England. Two replicated trials in Dorset indicated that long-term restoration of dry lowland heath can restore a bee community similar to that on ancient heaths. One of these studies showed that the community of conopid flies parasitizing bumblebees remained impoverished 15 years after heathland restoration began. We found no evidence on interventions to conserve bees on upland heath or moorland.


Supporting evidence from individual studies


Selective tree felling and removal of humus and nutrient-rich soil by scraping in a 1 ha area at Norton Heath Common, southeast England increased the range of common bumblebee species recorded within the scraped area from one in the first year to four in the second year (Gardiner & Vaughan 2008).


Forup et al. (2008) compared four ancient dry lowland heaths in Dorset with four paired heathland sites first restored from pine Pinus sp. plantation 11 to 14 years previously. There were no consistent differences between the communities of insect pollinators, including bees, at ancient and restored sites. There was no clear evidence that bees or other pollinators colonised restored heaths from the adjacent or nearby paired ancient heaths, implying that from a bee perspective, there is no need to site heathland restoration projects very close to ancient sites.


Henson et al. (2009) sampled bumblebees visiting flowers on six ancient and six restored patches of heathland on the Isle of Purbeck, Dorset, England. The restored sites had been restored from pine plantation around 10 years previously. The species richness and abundance of bumblebees were similar on ancient and restored sites, as were those of bumblebee protozoan parasites, external and tracheal mites. But conopid flies, a type of internal bumblebee parasitoid, were significantly less abundant on restored sites than ancient sites.

Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Dicks, L.V., Showler, D.A. & Sutherland, W.J. (2010) Bee conservation: evidence for the effects of interventions. Pelagic Publishing, Exeter, UK