Seed collecting workshop a great success

Last Thursday we hosted our first Habitat Workshop as part of our Bees for Everyone project.  The workshop took place at Bettyhill Village Hall in Sutherland and was delivered by Michelle, our Scottish Conservation Officer, with Giles and Fiona from Scotia Seeds.

Twenty one bumblebee enthusiasts turned up to learn about the wild flowers that are important to bumblebees. These plants are especially good for the rare bumblebees in the area - the Great yellow and Moss carder bumblebees.  Caithness and Sutherland in the north of Scotland support the last remaining populations of the Great yellow bumblebee on the UK mainland. 

During the day Giles and Fiona from Scotia Seeds shared their wisdom from many years of running their own wild flower seed business.  They explained the importance of keeping records, how to collect responsibly, the law relating to seed collection, health and safety, useful and essential equipment (apparently a rabbit gut hook is ideal for removing seed heads from plants!), techniques for seed collecting by hand and much, much more.

In the afternoon session, theory was put into practice at the wild flower rich site – Farr Glebe.  Farr Glebe is a small area of land behind the Strathnaver Museum at Bettyhill, the site is fantastic for bumblebees and it is probably one of best places to see Great yellow bumblebees. 

Giles and Fiona demonstrated how to collect seed from greater knapweed, field scabious, bird’s-foot-trefoil, clovers and vetches.  Everyone then had to go and collected ripe viable seed from each of the demonstrated plants; it is a lot trickier than it sounds.  The attendees however were very fast learners and quickly moved on to more difficult plants including wild thyme and selfheal.  Hand lenses were a necessity, especially for the wild thyme seed.

All in all, it was a day to remember: the weather was glorious and everyone got to see the Great yellow bumblebees hard at work at Farr Glebe. 

Michelle would like to thank everyone who came along to the event and for making it such as success. It was great to meet so many enthusiastic people and she is looking forward to seeing new wild flower projects in Caithness and Sutherland very soon.

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