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D1c. Status of pollinating insects

Type: State / Benefit indicator

Indicator Description

This indicator illustrates changes in pollinator distribution (bees and hoverflies) in the UK. The indicator is based on 365 species of pollinator (137 species of bee and 228 species of hoverfly), and measures change in the number of 1 km grid squares across the UK in which they were recorded in any given year – this is referred to as the ‘occupancy index’. Many insect species are involved in pollination but bees and hoverflies are known to be important and are presented here as an indicator of overall pollinator trend.


  1. Summary


This indicator has been updated to include 14 additional species of hoverfly across the entire time series; this update has impacted on the long-term and short-term trends.

There was an overall decrease in the pollinator indicator from 1987 onwards. In 2016, the indicator had declined by 31% compared to its value in 1980. The long-term trend was assessed as declining (Figure D1ci).

Between 2011 and 2016, the indicator showed a decrease of 10%; the short-term trend was also assessed as declining.

Over the long term, 14% of pollinator species became more widespread (5% showed a strong increase), and 44% became less widespread (20% showed a strong decrease). Similarly, a greater proportion of species were decreasing than increasing over the short term, with 46% of species decreasing and 38% of species increasing.

Figure D1ci. Change in the distribution of UK pollinators, 1980 to 2016.

A line graph showing the change in the unsmoothed UK pollinators index from 1980 to 2016. The index peaked in 1987 at 107% of its baseline value but has since fallen to a low of 68% of its baseline value in 2015. A 100% stacked bar chart showing the percentage of individual UK polinator species that have either increased, decreased or shown no change in distribution over the long term (1980 to 2016) and the short term (2011 to 2016).


  1. The line graph shows the unsmoothed composite indicator trend with variation around the line (shaded) within which we can be 90% confident that the true value lies (credible interval).
  2. The figure in brackets shows the total number of species included in the index (137 wild bee and 228 hoverfly species).
  3. The bar chart shows the percentage of species within the indicator that have increased, decreased or shown no change in occupancy, based on set thresholds of change.
  4. This indicator is not directly comparable with the previous publication. Hoverfly trends have been updated to 2016 (previously 2013) and 14 additional hoverfly species have been included across the entire time series, increasing the total number of hoverfly species in the indicator from 214 to 228.

Assessment of change in the distribution of pollinators in the UK


Long term

Short term

Latest year

Distribution of UK pollinators



No change (2016)

Note: Analysis of the underlying trends is carried out by the data providers – see Assessing Indicators.



Download the Fiche, Datasheet and Technical background document (1 and 2) from JNCC's Resource Hub.

Download the Evidence Statement (2016). More information on the Evidence Statements, including the project report, is available on Defra's website.

Last updated: September 2019

Latest data: 2016



UK Biodiversity Indicators 2019

Published: .

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