Tourists asked to help save rare bumblebee

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The great yellow bumblebee, which was an abundant species in the UK until the 1960s, is now only found in a few locations in the north-west of Scotland.

Due to how remote these areas are, it is difficult for experts to monitor accurately the remaining population which leaves uncertainty as to where exactly the species still survives.

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust is asking visitors and residents in sites ranging from Tiree, the Uists, Harris and Lewis, across Sutherland and Caithness on the mainland, to Orkney and Shetland to hunt and identify the last locations of the bumblebee.

Katy Malone, Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s Scotland conservation officer, said: ‘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 north-west Highlands and Islands this year – as well as those living in these beautiful places – to help.’

The hunt will be carried out in 28 specific grid references – each measuring 10 x 10 km – between June and September. These are areas that have been previously documented as habitat for the bumblebees but have not been checked in recent years. The effort was due to start on Saturday June 8.

A map complete with a list of all the grid squares is available on the trust’s website: bumblebeeconservation.org. It also gives a description of the different species that may be found.

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.