Rare bee species recorded on Scots mountain for first time

The bees were recorded on Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve in the Highlands.

Rare bee species recorded on Scots mountain for first time National Trust For Scotland

Several new bee species have been discovered for the first time ever on a Scottish mountain.

The bees were recorded by a local expert on Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve in the Highlands.

The National Trust of Scotland say the floral diversity of Ben Lawers provides “perfect habitat and sanctuary” and the conservation charity’s work to restore mountain woodland has added to that.

Nine of the 24 known British bumblebee species, including the rare bilberry bumblebee (Bombus monticola) and the broken-belted bumblebee (Bombus soroeensis) can be found there and the recent work in the area has also created habitats for solitary bees.

Local bee expert, Anthony McCluskey, tracks the insects and has made new discoveries among the woodlands.

The bee species found on the Morenish Woodland Trail have never been recorded on the reserve and are tricky to identify due to their size and hard-to-spot features.

The records were verified by Mike Edwards from the Bees Wasps and Ants Recording Society.

Several female Clarke’s mining bees (Andrena clarkella) have been sighted foraging on willow catkins.

This species is very hairy, with pollen baskets not only on their legs but on the abdomen too. Although a widespread species, there are almost no records of them across the central Highlands.

Another significant sighting is of a very rare female Lime-loving furrow bee (Lasioglossum fulvicorne). 

There are only eight records of this species in Scotland, all from a small area in the Cairngorms.

They are strongly associated with calcareous soils, which can be found on Ben Lawers’ rich landscape.

Mr McCluskey said: “The findings from last year show the importance of providing just the right conditions for these remarkable insects.

“This includes the willows and wildflowers that provide food for the bees, as well as the sunny spaces for them to nest in the ground.

“It was extremely exciting to find several new species at Ben Lawers last year, and no doubt there will be more to discover at this amazing site.”