Thursday 22 June 2017

Rare parasitic bumblebee unseen for 90 years found buzzing around park

Southern cuckoo bumblebee, last spotted in Co Carlow in 1926, was found in St Enda's Park in Rathfarnham two weeks ago.
Southern cuckoo bumblebee, last spotted in Co Carlow in 1926, was found in St Enda's Park in Rathfarnham two weeks ago.

Danielle Stephens

A RARE bumblebee that hadn't been sighted in nearly 90 years was recently discovered in a park in Dublin.

The southern cuckoo bumblebee – last spotted in Co Carlow in 1926 – was found buzzing around St Enda's Park in Rathfarnham.

Gardener Eddie Hill noticed the bumblebees feeding on some flowers and immediately realised there was something odd about them.

"I've been interested in bumblebees for the past two years," he said of the bee he spotted nearly two weeks ago.

"I'm in St Enda's most days, so when I saw these bees pollinating flowers in the park, I just knew they were different."

This type of bumblebee is a parasitic species, which invades a host bee's nest, kills the queen and uses the host's workforce to breed its young.

It can be distinguished from other species because a true bumblebee has a pollen basket, whereas parasitic bees don't.

The Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme was set up in Ireland three years ago and it aims to record the number of members of every bee species and to document the amount of bee species in Ireland.

Dr Tomas Murray, co-ordinator of the scheme, explained why 30pc of the 20 bumblebee species in Ireland are endangered, including the great yellow bumblebee and the shrill carder bee.

"A general decline of habitat for the bees is the main factor," he said.

Irish Independent

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