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Help bugs and bees in Caithness with B-Lines


By David G Scott

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This week, conservation charity Buglife is launching a B-Lines map for the Highlands that could help the dwindling numbers of great yellow bumblebees found in Caithness.

B-Lines is the charity's response to the decline of bees and other pollinating insects and provides a plan for how to reconnect the country's wild places by creating a network of wildflowers across the land.

Bombus distinguendus, the great yellow bumblebee. Declining numbers have made it one of the UK’s rarest bee species. Picture: Nick Owens
Bombus distinguendus, the great yellow bumblebee. Declining numbers have made it one of the UK’s rarest bee species. Picture: Nick Owens

Pollinators are disappearing from large parts of the countryside – there are fewer bees, hoverflies, butterflies and moths – and as well as the loss of abundance, some species are at risk of extinction in Scotland. This can be changed by working together to restore wildflower areas in the countryside and urban areas to aid Nature’s recovery.

B-Lines provide an opportunity to create a network of wildflower-rich areas across Scotland providing essential routes for pollinators to use. The B-Lines network in Scotland includes the best habitats and identifies key areas to restore and create new wildflower-rich meadows, important grassland verges and pollinator friendly gardens. B-Lines can be adopted by farmers and landowners, local authorities and the general public across all of Scotland.

B-Lines map of Scotland.
B-Lines map of Scotland.

SSEN Transmission sought advice from bee experts at the Bumblebee Conservation Trust to ensure that its Thurso South works created an attractive long-term environment for the great yellow bumblebee. Work was carried out to create a bee-friendly habitat by planting a flower-rich landscape in all 10 hectares of earth around the substation site. Thanks to this the rare bees were recently sighted in meadows around the substation.

Buglife Scotland manager, Natalie Stevenson, said: “Launching B-lines across Scotland will help us forge strong regional partnerships so together we can improve habitats and ensure that the important ecological services provided by pollinators can be sustained. People across Scotland are realising how critical invertebrates are for a nature-rich future and are beginning to change the way they manage our grasslands, but there is so much more we can do. Let us have those critical conversations now and lead the change for our future.”

A bee collecting pollen at a garden in Wick. Picture: DGS
A bee collecting pollen at a garden in Wick. Picture: DGS

Many B-Lines naturally align along the coast and key transport corridors such as the NC500. There are many opportunities to create new linear wildflower-rich verges that will bring benefits to nature and people.

Caroline Vawdrey from the Highlands Environment Forum, said: “It’s an ambitious project that could make a huge difference to insects' survival in many parts of the Highlands. Some of our member organisations have already been active in creating the B-line maps with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation and RSPB all sharing their expertise to make sure that the B-lines are the best."

Everyone who manages land across the Highlands can help to restore the pollinator populations. Take a look at the B-Lines map and see if your farm, garden, local park or other land you manage is on a B-Line.

For more information go to www.buglife.org.uk/our-work/b-lines/

Biodiversity boost as great yellow bumblebee is spotted in substation meadow


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