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  • Julie

The Great Yellow Bumblebee Hunt

Updated: Sep 5, 2022

Do you love bumblebees?

Do you love nature and wilderness?

Do you love the Hebrides?

Are you coming here on holiday between June to September this year?

If so then please can you help the Bumblebee Conservation Trust to save one of the UK's rarest bumblebees which is on the brink of extinction?

The conservation charity is asking people taking their holidays in North West Scotland to hunt for the rare Great Yellow Bumblebee in specific grid references at sites ranging from Tiree, the Uist's, Harris and Lewis. They are also asking people to search in Sutherland ,Caithness and Orkney and Shetland.

The Great Yellow Bumblebee (Bombus distenguendus) was once present in populations across the UK but has declined by 80% in the last century and is now restricted to machair and other flower rich areas in the Orkneys, Hebrides and Caithness and Sutherland. Remaining populations are in need of immediate protection. The main reasons for the decline are loss of the flower rich machair and intensification of farming practices. It is in areas of traditional crofting practices that the bumblebee now remains.

The Bumblebee conservation trust plans to create more and better habitats for the Great Yellow Bumblebee through agrenvironment funding, crofting initiatives and or voluntary measures.

The Great Yellow Bumblebee lifecycle. The Great Yellow Queens emerge from about mid June onwards and after feeding they search for a suitable nesting site. They produce smaller colonies than other species with 20-50 workers, which are seen from mid July onwards. Males emerge from the nest in early August and then daughter queens are seen from mid August.

Great Yellow Bumblebee ID

After mating the daughter queens find hibernation sites in deep plant litter or sand dunes, emerging again the following June.

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust has a factsheet on the Great Yellow Bumblebee which has more details. The link is below.

The Great Yellow Bumblebee Hunt.

There is more information on the Bumblebee Trust website about the hunt, including how and where to look for and identify the bees, how to record the information and how you can get involved on social media #theGYBHunt. The link to the Trust website is below.

We have been lucky enough to see these striking bees here on North Uist in previous years and we know from a previous guest that the Great Yellow Bumblebee visited the flowers in our garden. The photographs of this Great Yellow Bumblebee were taken by us on a day trip to Mingulay. We were lucky to have a bee expert on board who found the bee and released it safely back where he found it.

Please get involved if you are visiting any of the areas they are recording data from and if you see the Great Yellow Bumblebee anywhere else then please share the information with the Bumblebee Trust. It's a great way to explore the coast and great fun for the whole family!

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