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Tiree's Great Yellow Bumblebee Project

Worker GYBB on red clover (Paul Wood). Note the pollen basket on the hind leg. Only early queens and workers have pollen baskets, and this does not show the golden hue of queens.
Project Update - 31 March 2018
Happy Easter! And a massive 'Thank You' to our newcomers for subscribing.
Hasn’t the weather been gorgeous and Spring-like? I even saw my first bumblebee of the year last week – a brave queen ‘white-tail’, one of the early-emerging species. The GYBB queens won’t emerge until mid-May at the earliest (sensible things!).

GYBB map 2017
I am delighted to be able to now show you a map of the results of all the GYBB surveys from last year (yellow dots). It indicates just how important Tiree is for this rare species, and reflects all the hard work that the surveyors put in last summer. It also shows where we trialled sowing GYBB-friendly wildflower seeds (green dots). Many thanks to Andy Robinson at RSPB for creating the map. Please ignore the erroneous record in the middle of Gott Bay.
Phenology
Thanks to Bella Trythall’s intensive searches for GYBBs near her house at Aird, we now have a better understanding of the timing of the phases (phenology) of the GYBB life cycle on Tiree. Although the weather (and latitude) can affect phenology each year, in 2017 it went something like this:
18 Jun. First post-hibernation queen seen at Barrapol
7 Aug. New workers forage for nectar and pollen to raise male & female grubs
28 Aug. Daughter queens emerge
5 Sep. New males emerge and patrol for daughter queens with which to mate.
23 Sep. Last daughter queen recorded on knapweed at Soroby (see photo).
24 Sep. Last small and drowsy worker recorded at Aird.
 
New queen GYBB on knapweed at Soroby on 23/9/17 (John Bowler). Note how golden and fresh it looks, not like the more dingy workers and males.
Planting Wild Kidney Vetch
I’ve been sowing the wild kidney vetch seeds that we collected last September into plug trays with the School’s Gardening Club, and at home. Once these have grown to a decent size we can plant them out at areas of eroded beach crest (and anywhere else that they are wanted!) to help stabilise the dunes and provide more flowers for queen GYBBs emerging next Spring. If you would like to grow some in plug trays at home just now, please do get in touch gybb@friendsoftiree.org.uk. I can provide everything you need, and the more we have the more we can do for the bees and for coastal stabilisation.

Volunteering options for Summer 2018
I’ll be looking for help to plant out the little kidney vetch seedlings in the summer, and to conduct bumblebee surveys at additional sites, so if you fancy some nice days out wandering the dunes and machair, while doing something for our native wildlife, do please get in touch gybb@friendsoftiree.org.uk. Or watch this space – I’ll be producing another update soon.

Acknowledgements
Many thanks again to all who expressed an interest in the project and got involved in 2017, and to the RSPB and the Tiree Community Development Trust for their continuing support.
Thank you for your interest and support.
Best wishes
Janet
Copyright © 2018 Tiree's Great Yellow Bumblebee Project, All rights reserved.


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