North West Wales

Call for unusual bee sightings in Snowdonia, Llyn peninsula and Anglesey

Tree Bumblebee picture taken by Simon Hughes
Image caption The bee has a bright ginger back which makes it easy to spot say experts

Experts want to find out how far a Tree Bumblebee first found in the UK in 2001 has spread into north Wales.

A radio and newspaper appeal has resulted in a flood of sightings along the coastline of Bombus hypnorum.

But there have been no recorded sightings in Snowdonia or the Llyn peninsula, and only one on Anglesey.

Experts from Cofnod - which collates all biological information for north Wales - say it is possibly "skirting around" upland areas.

The bee is easy to spot because it has a bright ginger back and it nests in holes in trees or nest boxes, so does not compete with native species.

"We've had an excellent response to our appeal with around 30 records, which is a lot for such an obscure creature," said Richard Gallon, the biological data officer with Cofnod.

A map has been compiled to show where the Tree Bumblebee has already been spotted, and Mr Gallon says more sightings are needed to build up a true picture of what is happening.

"There are still areas not covered, with nothing in Snowdonia or the Llyn peninsula and most of Anglesey, where there has only been one sighting in Menai Bridge."

He said that from when it first appeared in Wiltshire in 2001 is has been slowly spreading north and has now reached southern Scotland and is already all over south Wales.

"Records show that it is now found all along the north Wales coast and we think it might be skirting around upland areas.

"But Anglesey would be ideal for it and it might already be there only people don't know what they are looking for."

Mr Gallon added: "It's got it's own niche, and a lot of people quite like having them around, they like to watch them go in and out of the nest boxes."

This year it has been seen for the first time at the RSPB reserve in Llandudno Junction, Conwy.

The reserve manager Julian Hughes said: "It was found here by a visitor who knew what he was looking at, but subsequently I have found them on the Little Orme (at Llandudno) near where I live."

Mr Hughes said that up to now no nest has been found on the RSPB site and he thinks the bees are visiting the large areas of brambles on the reserve for food.

Before it was discovered in the UK the bee was mainly found in central Europe but its move may be a response to a change in the climate, he said.

"The fact that they've moved up the country in a dozen years [since they arrived in 2001] means they are doing rather well.

"They don't cause problems and it's really a good news story," he added.

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