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Weird orange ball of light seen over Golspie near time of mass bumblebee deaths – could there be a link?


By David G Scott

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The mystery of mass bumblebee deaths at Golpsie deepened after a local man detailed a strange phenomenon that could be linked to the sad event a few weeks ago.

On May 31, hundreds of dead bumblebees were observed along a scenic stretch of the village next to the Bay of Sutherland with many clumped together on or beside pathways. The cause of the deaths is currently unexplained.

Some of the dead bumblebees at the promenade in Golspie on May 31. Picture: DGS
Some of the dead bumblebees at the promenade in Golspie on May 31. Picture: DGS

A Northern Times reader, Douglas Mackay, said he witnessed an “orange ball” in the sky at around the same time and in the approximate area where the mass deaths occurred and contacted the paper to relate the information.

“I live in a house in Ben Bhraggie Drive that is situated behind the hospital, elevated maybe about 100ft above the village,” he said.

View from Douglas Mackay's house that looks over the area where the bumblebee deaths occurred and where he saw an orange ball in the sky.
View from Douglas Mackay's house that looks over the area where the bumblebee deaths occurred and where he saw an orange ball in the sky.

“It might have been a week before the findings. Anyway, I was standing in my back garden probably about 8pm as the light was starting to go but still had a nice clear view of the village and sea when I spotted an orange light coming in over the sea probably 50 to 100ft above the water.

“I was looking down on it at this point. At first I thought it was a helicopter but soon realised it wasn’t. It was a perfect orange ball and continued over the village rooftops, I would say probably about Murdo's Lane, heading straight towards me.

“It then rose up as it approached the hospital quite sharply and vanished.”

Mr Mackay witnessed the strange phenomenon from his home in Golspie.
Mr Mackay witnessed the strange phenomenon from his home in Golspie.

Mr Mackay adds: “I would say the size of this phenomenon I saw was huge and would compare it to the size I can see the full moon. Unfortunately, I didn't have my phone with me and the timescale was probably 10 to 15 seconds.

“What got me was the perfect orange colour, it wasn't glowing or anything, just a perfect orange circle.

“I happened to notice other sightings in the country about that time with photos taken. Not sure if it would have a bearing on the poor bumblebees.”

This scenic pathway at Golspie's promenade had hundreds of bumblebee carcasses on and around it. Douglas Mackay witnessed an orange ball of light in the sky over this area around a week before the dead bees were photographed. Picture: DGS
This scenic pathway at Golspie's promenade had hundreds of bumblebee carcasses on and around it. Douglas Mackay witnessed an orange ball of light in the sky over this area around a week before the dead bees were photographed. Picture: DGS

Some reports appeared in the media around the same time as Mr Mackay’s sighting with the Daily Mail relating how mysterious orbs of glowing lights were seen in “clusters of more than 100” across Britain and even Holland.

Nick Pope, the former head of the MoD's UFO Project, believes that many similar sightings are Chinese lanterns let off at celebrations such as weddings.

The other possibility is an unusual and unexplained phenomenon called ball lightning which is described as “luminescent, spherical objects that vary from pea-sized to several meters in diameter”.

A rare sighting of ball lightning occurred in Caithness at Crosskirk in the 1990s when a glowing orb entered the house of Derry and June Angus, darted around the interior and blew out electrical points before exiting the property. It was seen by several witnesses travelling across a field and caused minor damage to properties.

Ball lightning was seen in the Crosskirk area of Caithness. Picture: DGS
Ball lightning was seen in the Crosskirk area of Caithness. Picture: DGS

Mr Mackay said it was possibly ball lightning but when he did some online research he related that “nothing looked as perfect in shape and colour as what I saw”.

“There was no distortion at all and no sound, it was a lovely clear night and calm.”

He said that he has lived at his home for 31 years and had never seen anything like this before. “I do a lot of walking in the forest and along the beach and have never come across anything like that. It was probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“I probably wouldn't have mentioned it if it wasn't for the bumblebees. Just thought it strange in the same time period,” he added.

AI-generated image of what the orange ball may have looked like.
AI-generated image of what the orange ball may have looked like.

The mass death of the bumblebees at Golspie has still not been explained. David Mackay, operations manager (north) at NatureScot, said that “it’s not something I’ve ever come across before” and had some of the dead bees sent to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BCT) for analysis.

Katy Malone, BCT conservation projects manager (Scotland), said it may take several months for the results to come in on possible causes.


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