Page last updated at 23:18 GMT, Monday, 2 April 2007 00:18 UK

Trust to launch bumblebee watch

Help will be offered in identifying the different bumblebees

A group behind efforts to conserve a rare bee in the Highlands and Islands is planning to launch a UK-wide bumblebee garden watch.

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust will invite the public to send in sightings so it can build up a map of where its 25 species are.

It will be the first time the trust has attempted to run such a scheme.

The trust and Scottish Natural Heritage are trying to boost numbers of the great yellow bumblebee.

The insect is clinging to survival in the Hebrides and parts of Sutherland.

Dave Goulson, of the University of Stirling-based trust, said people would get help identifying the different species.

He said: "People with digital cameras or a camera on their mobile phones can send us pictures of the bumblebees in their garden and we will send them back an identification.

"If people send us the date and a postcode of where the bumblebee was seen then we will be able put together a national map."

The trust will run the garden watch throughout the summer.

Loch Leven

Meanwhile, the organisation is to send information packs to 400 Scottish schools in an effort to raise the profile of the great yellow.

Mr Goulson said a public appeal for funding to create a great yellow reserve in the Western Isles had "evolved" into a project working with the public and crofters in managing machair - or meadow - for the benefit of rare bumblebees.

The trust has also been working with RSPB Scotland to create a great yellow habitat on 20 acres (eight hectares) near Loch Leven, Kinross.

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