The great yellow bumblebee (GYBB) is creating quite a buzz on the island.

It’s one of the UK’s rarest bumblebees and its distribution has declined by 80% in the last century. The cause of its decline is most likely due to agricultural intensification and the subsequent loss of clover-rich flower meadows. Tiree’s expanses of machair, which includes a variety of clover and clover-like flowers, make an important refuge for this enigmatic bee, but even here, the species appears to be struggling.

Bumblebee surveys conducted by the Tiree Great Yellow Bumblebee Project from mid-May to the end of September revealed some astonishing results. They recorded 105 GYBB over the summer of 2017, and a whacking great 370 in 2018. Until then no-one had realised just how important Tiree was for the species.

Tiree homes are scattered throughout the island, usually within bee’s-reach of GYBB nesting and hibernating habitat, making their gardens ideal for creating a ‘mini-machair’ network. In total, Tiree Great Yellow Bumblebee Project, planted around 40 areas with GYBB ‘super-food’.

Over the next two years they will review the success of the ‘mini-machairs’, continue to conduct bumblebee surveys and grow more GYBB ‘super-food’.

As a summer visitor – expect to see more of these rare and beautiful bumblebees.

Island Buzz