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Finding the Blaeberry bumblebee

In one of my previous blogs I wrote about my search to find one of the more scarce species of bumblebee, the Blaeberry or Bilberry bumblebee (click here to read it). I particularly wanted to see this species because I’d never seen it before, and because of its striking appearance – having a bright orange abdomen.

Then I had spent several hours in the hills near Loch Leven in Scotland, which holds a strong population of that species. But that was in 2012 – one of the worst years for bumblebees that many people can remember, because of the poor weather we had in most of spring and summer. Once again this summer I had failed to see any Blaeberry bumblebees, and as autumn approached I had given up hope. So I was taken completely by surprise when last week I saw my first ever Blaeberry bumblebee! I was at the Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve in Perthshire, looking for wildflowers. When I saw some bumblebees on some scabious flowers, I went to have a look to see what was there. I found a few males of the common species, and was about to go on when something caught my eye – the bright orange of a Blaeberry bumblebee. I could hardly believe it! And even better was that it was a male, and he was lazily feeding upon the flower. He even walked onto my hand so I could take a better photo.

The presence of the Blaeberry bumblebee at that site is down to the special management of the reserve by the National Trust for Scotland. While many of the other hills in Scotland are heavily grazed by sheep and cattle, the land there is carefully managed to allow a rich diversity of wildlife to Thrive. you can find more information about the reserve by clicking here.

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