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Last Updated: Friday, 28 July 2006, 09:28 GMT 10:28 UK
Bumblebee reserve appeal launched
Great yellow bumblebee
The great yellow bumblebee is one rare species found in the isles
Conservationists have launched an appeal for 100,000 to create a bumblebee reserve in the Western Isles.

The islands are one of the few places in the UK where endangered species of the insect survive.

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust said it hoped to set up a reserve on the west coast of the Uists but had not yet identified a specific site.

Meanwhile, a sniffer dog trained to find rare bumblebees on Tiree has had some early success in tracing nests.

Ben Darvill, co-founder of the trust, said it wants to work with local crofters in creating a reserve.

He said: "We are not looking to take land away from anyone, but to take over a farm or croft that has been abandoned or is to be turned over to an intensive farm.

"We're not looking to do anything radical."

The Western Isles' machair, sandy grasslands which bloom with wild flowers, is ideal bumblebee habitat.

New information

The trust's other projects include Quinn, a specially trained sniffer dog, who is roaming Tiree in the Inner Hebrides with his owner Joe Waters.

Their task is to establish the number of rare bumblebees on the island.

Quinn has been trained to point his nose at a hive rather than get too close and risk a sting.

Mr Darvill said: "They are already finding out a lot about where the bees like to nest and a lot of interesting information about their nesting requirements that we did not know before.

"It's great because they only started on Tuesday of this week."

The details being collated include soil types the bees prefer and what direction the banks they burrow into face.

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