PICTURES: Rare bee discovered by volunteers in village
- Credit: Archant
A rare bee has been found in Yatton, thanks to volunteers’ efforts.
The rare yellow loosestrife bee was discovered in the village by Yatton and Congresbury Wildlife Action Group (YACWAG).
There are more than 250 species of bee in the UK, but one in 10 species is facing extinction due to the chemicals used in the countryside and loss of habitat because of urbanisation, disease and the effects of climate change.
The rare bee is specific to the yellow loosestrife wild flower, which would once have been much more common in the marshy ground around Yatton.
Over the years, intensive agriculture and drainage have reduced the amount of damp uncultivated ground where the plant can flourish and new plants are now found very infrequently.
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When YACWAG bought two fields off Stowey Road in 2006 they were pleased to see yellow loosestrife growing along one of the ditch banks.
The fields have been managed with the rare wild flowers in mind and this year, there were large numbers of the plant along the edge of the fields.
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A colony also unusually sprang up a few years ago in the middle of the field.
Tony Moulin, chairman of YACWAG and an amateur entomologist, read about the rare bee.
Not knowing much about it, but knowing that the plant associated with it was growing strongly in YACWAG’s fields, he set out to see if he could find it.
He discovered one and then asked YACWAG member Colin Higgins, who is also an insect enthusiast and wildlife photographer, to see if he could get better photographs.
With these, Colin was able to obtain verification from the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society that the bee on the yellow loosestrife was indeed the yellow loosestrife bee.
The bee is normally regarded as a species of southern England and is previously unknown from the Bristol and North Somerset region.
Tony said: “When you begin to understand the very specific requirements of some of our insects, it is easy to see why they are at risk of extinction. “These bees may have been in small numbers in the fields north of Yatton for centuries, but if YACWAG had not bought the fields, if they had been sold for development or managed more intensively, then the colony would have been wiped out without anyone even knowing they existed.
“Our wildlife is so fragile.”