Northwest Scotland hunt to save one of UK’s rarest bumblebees, the Great Yellow

Holidaymakers in northwest Scotland are being called upon to help bring back the Great Yellow bumblebee from the brink of extinction by identifying some of the last locations of one of the UK’s rarest bumblebees.

The Bumblebee Conservation wants people to hunt for the rare Great Yellow bumblebee in 28 specific grid references between June and September, at sites ranging from Tiree, the Uists, Harris and Lewis, across Sutherland and Caithness on the mainland, to Orkney and Shetland.

The Great Yellow is a large bumblebee entirely covered with golden-yellow hairs – apart from a black band across the thorax between the wing bases. It was found across the UK until the 1960s, but after suffering a massive decline is now only found in a few places in Scotland’s remote northwest, in machair grasslands and other flower-rich areas on the north coast and some of the islands. Because these areas are so remote and relatively uninhabited, the species is difficult to monitor – leaving experts uncertain about exactly where it still survives.

Katy Malone, Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s Scotland Conservation Officer, said: “We need to know more about where the Great Yellow bumblebee is holding on, so we can take action to protect it before it’s too late. Anyone can get involved with this citizen science initiative to save a species.

“Because this iconic insect’s last havens are in some of the country’s most far-flung corners, we don’t have enough volunteers to find and record its whereabouts. So we’re asking people holidaying in the northwest Highlands and Islands this year – as well as those living in these beautiful places – to help.”

The Trust is asking people to record what they find, and if they think they have found a Great Yellow bumblebee, to take photographs to help experts confirm identification.

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com


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