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Why are our bumblebees in decline? Your donations help us try to answer questions like this and respond to other crises in the natural world.
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Every day the Museum makes a difference by:

  • building collections to advance our knowledge of the natural world
  • helping over 8,000 daily visitors understand more about the natural world
  • more than 300 Museum scientists researching and analysing specimens to address key environmental issues
  • preserving the third largest collection of artwork in the UK, that is of exceptional historic and scientific importance
  • enhancing our magnificent 125-year-old building at South Kensington, with new state-of-the-art facilities, bringing the Museum's science closer to our visitors.

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The decline of the British bumblebee
Paul Williams at work in the field

Paul Williams at work

As early as 1959 it was suggested that some British bumblebee populations were in decline. Since 1985, Paul Williams, research entomologist at the Museum, has been working on a project to identify what makes some species more susceptible to decline.

Bumblee unrecorded since 1988

Bombus subterraneus unrecorded in Britain since 1988

Evidence shows that the changing environment may have contributed to the impoverishment of the bumblebee fauna in some areas. Loss of open habitats and especially certain food plants seem to be the single most important factor affecting the dwindling bumblebee population.

Your donations could help contribute to a bumblebee barcoding project enabling Museum scientists to identify bumblebees worldwide. Larger donations could help fund a technician to catalogue bumblebee names and link information about many species.

Find out more about our bumblebee research

Cartoon image of a hatchet fish on a museum pass

In World War II the Museum was used as a secret base to develop new gadgets for allied spies, including an exploding rat!