RHS calls on public to spot bumblebees on blooms

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is launching a nationwide initiative to monitor ‘Bumbles on Blooms’, in a bid to identify which plants are most visited by bumblebees in spring and help these vital pollinators to thrive. 

From 12 February until 31 May 2024 the RHS, supported by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, is calling on all members of the public to observe bumblebee sightings on flowers in gardens and parks across the UK, and record their findings and photographs.

Bumblebees are a vital group of wild pollinators, helping to pollinate our garden plants as well as much relied on crops such as apples, tomatoes, and peas. When the weather starts to warm, queen bumblebees emerge from hibernation seeking flowers to provide nectar as fuel for flight and protein-rich pollen to feed the developing larvae of the worker bees.

The duel challenges of habitat loss1 and climate change mean that the availability of flowers in springtime is critically important for helping bumblebees establish successful colonies at the start of the season.

Data gathered during this project will help boost bumblebee populations by ensuring that gardeners receive the best advice for what to plant, and improve our understanding of their habits. Wildlife specialists from the RHS will monitor the results that could also provide valuable insight into whether factors such as flower colour and how urban or rural a site is influence bumblebees’ plant choice.

Getting involved in this project requires a few simple steps:
  1. Photograph bumblebees on flowers
  2. Check the identity of your bumblebees (simply submit as ‘bumblebee’ if unsure)
  3. Submit your record to the ‘Bumbles on Blooms’ project on iNaturalistUK2 (app or online)
Helen Bostock, RHS Senior Wildlife Specialist said:  ‘Bumblebees are a vital part of our ecosystem, pollinating our crops and flowers, and playing a key role in much of the food we eat. In the face of large-scale changes to the countryside and the ensuing decline in their numbers, flowers in gardens and parks are an increasingly important source of pollen and nectar for bumblebees. This project is an opportunity to give back; the better we understand which plants these industrious insects most rely on, the more we can help them to thrive.”

For more information on the project and how to get involved please visit:

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Notes to editors

For further information or images, contact Gina Miller [email protected] or the RHS Press Office at [email protected] / 0207 821 3080.
1.According to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust two species became extinct in the UK during the 20th century: Cullum’s bumblebee (Bombus cullumanus) and the Short-haired bumblebee (Bombus subterraneus). A further eight species (a third of the remaining species) are currently listed on at least one of the English, Welsh and Scottish conservation priority species lists due to their large-scale declines in distribution.

2.Please note iNaturalist is the Data Controller of the data added to iNaturalist. Please see for information on how your data is stored and handled by iNaturalist. Where permitted under the iNaturalist licence terms, RHS will use data in connection within the RHS ‘Bumbles on Blooms’ project to inform the RHS’s recommendations for plants for pollinators.

RHS Plants for Pollinators
The RHS Plants for Pollinators lists comprise a range of year-round flowering plants to tackle the decline in pollinator numbers. The lists are based on scientific evidence and the records of gardeners and beekeepers, and are regularly reviewed. To see the lists visit:
10 facts about bumblebees
  1. There are currently 24 species of bumblebee resident in Britain
  2. 18 species of bumblebee are social species. They make nests, collect pollen and have a worker caste. The remaining six species have a parasitic lifestyle, taking over existing nests established by other species. These are known as ‘cuckoo’ bumblebees.
  3. Bumblebees belong to an order called the Hymenoptera, which also includes sawflies, ants, and wasps.
  4. They are well-known for their distinctive low buzz, which is where their Latin name Bombus (meaning ‘booming’) originates.
  5. Unlike the honeybee, bumblebees do not make honey, as they do not need to store food for winter.
  6. Queen bumblebees spend the winter tucked up underground. In spring they look for early flowers to feed on before finding a place to nest - this could be an old mouse or vole hole, long grass or even in compost heaps, tree cavities, loft spaces or bird boxes.
  7. Species of bumblebees with shorter tongues need short, open flowers, with nectar within easy reach such as dandelions, while those with long tongues can enjoy deeper flowers like honeysuckle.
  8. The old English word for bumblebee is ‘dumbledore’
  9. Bumblebees can beat their wings around 200 times per second
  10. ‘Buzz pollination’ enables bumblebees to access pollen that other insects cannot on plants that have evolved to be more conservative with their pollen. By contracting their flight muscles (producing a distinctive buzzing sound), the bumblebees can direct strong vibrations on to the plant, resulting in an explosion of nutritious pollen grains from the tip of the anther.
About the RHS
Since our formation in 1804, the RHS has grown into the UK’s leading gardening charity, touching the lives of millions of people. Perhaps the secret to our longevity is that we’ve never stood still. In the last decade alone we’ve taken on the largest hands-on project the RHS has ever tackled by opening the new RHS Garden Bridgewater in Salford, Greater Manchester, and invested in the science that underpins all our work by building RHS Hilltop – The Home of Gardening Science.
We have committed to being net positive for nature and people by 2030. We are also committed to being truly inclusive and to reflect all the communities of the UK.
Across our five RHS gardens we welcome more than three million visitors each year to enjoy over 34,000 different cultivated plants. Events such as the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show, other national shows, our schools and community work, and partnerships such as Britain in Bloom, all spread the shared joy of gardening to wide-reaching audiences.

Throughout it all we’ve held true to our charitable core – to encourage and improve the science, art and practice of horticulture – to share the love of gardening and the positive benefits it brings.

For more information visit  

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.