Page last updated at 03:07 GMT, Monday, 22 February 2010

Buzz over new bumblebee discovery

Southern Cuckoo bumblebee
The Southern Cuckoo bumblebee moves into the nests of other bees

A species of bumblebee has been spotted in Scotland for the first time in 50 years.

The Southern Cuckoo bumblebee was found near the border with England at St Abbs in Berwickshire.

It is black and yellow like other types but the male has distinctive antennae and is named after the cuckoo because it moves into the nests of other bees.

The discovery comes as bumblebees across the UK struggle due to a lack of wild flowers.

The bee was spotted at Humbleton Hill, just north of Eyemouth, by Bob Dawson from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

He said: "It is hugely exciting to discover a new species for Scotland - I'm thrilled. Cuckoo bumblebees can be tricky to identify. They look superficially similar to other bumblebees but males of this species have distinctive antennae."

Experts at the trust said they could not say whether climate change was a factor in the species' move north.

We very much hope it is not a case of 'one in, one out'
Ben Darvill
Bumblebee Conservation Trust

The conservation group's director, Ben Darvill, said: "At a time when bumblebees up and down the UK are struggling due to a lack of flower-rich habitat, it is heartening to see that at least one species is expanding its range."

He added: "Sadly many other species are threatened with national extinction, with Scotland's Great Yellow bumblebee in particular trouble.

"We very much hope it is not a case of 'one in, one out'."

The discovery came as a week of events to celebrate Scotland's environment gets under way.

The trust said gardeners could make a significant difference to the plight of the bumblebee by growing cottage garden plants and wild flowers throughout the year rather than fancier varieties which are of little use to wildlife.

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