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Buxton’s first bumblebee safari was ‘bee-rilliant’!

The Friends of Buxton Station (FoBS) were ‘buzzing’ after organising the town’s first-ever bumblebee safari.

The event, which was organised as part of the station group’s ‘Great Buxton Bilberry Bumblebee Hunt’ for the town’s Festival Fringe, saw ‘bee-hunters’ head off to the Light Wood area to seek out the rare Bilberry bumblebee.

The Bilberry bumblebee is one of Britain’s rarest bumblebees, now only found in the Peak District and a few other mountainous areas. It plays a key role in supporting moorland plants – including by pollinating bilberries, a plant it has helped keep alive.

Dave Carlisle, chair of FoBS, said: “The idea for a safari came about after FoBS worked with volunteers from The Bumblebee Conservation Trust. We devised a self-guided safari leaflet last summer and wanted to take it one step further this year, when Covid-19 restrictions allowed. We were very lucky that Steve buzzed in to help – his knowledge and enthusiasm made it very enjoyable and educational!”

Buxton amateur naturalist Steve Orridge, who led the walk, added: “We had a lovely warm evening and lots of insects were ‘on the wing.’ We were lucky to see so many different things, because the season has been very slow to get going. We saw a ‘hard to spot’ reptile and plenty of common bees, but sadly not our lovely Bilberry bumblebee – they are that rare!”

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust is a charity with serious concerns about the ‘plight of the bumblebee’. In the last 80 years, bumblebee populations have crashed, and three species have already become extinct in the UK.