Thurso: Gateway to the Great Yellow


Thurso: Gateway to the Great Yellow is working with communities in Caithness to style Thurso as the UK’s first Great yellow bumblebee town.

The Great yellow bumblebee (Bombus distinguendus) is one of the rarest UK bumblebees. It is a specialist species, needing extensive meadows and particular types of flowers to survive year-to-year. It is a distinctive furry insect with bright yellow and black markings. Caithness, on the far north east of the UK mainland, is one of the last places you can still find Great yellows in the country. The main town in the county is Thurso, a vibrant and welcoming community with an impressive natural history and culture.

This project is creating strong community ownership of the rare Great yellow bumblebee and encouraging grassroots support for its conservation. Through education, outreach, interpretation and wide-ranging practical measures, we are raising awareness of the county’s unique natural heritage, creating and managing habitats for pollinators and carrying out vital monitoring work.

Current and planned work

  • Safeguard existing populations of the Great yellow bumblebee and other pollinators in Caithness through active conservation work to maintain, restore and create valuable bumblebee habitats.
  • Record more accurate data on the population abundance and distribution of rare Great yellow bumblebees and ensure the continuity of recording through greater support of our active volunteers.
  • Educate and train a greater number and a greater diversity of volunteers, creating opportunities for involvement and inspiring individual action.


Forestry Commission Scotland, University of the Highlands and Islands.


We would like to thank the following funders for supporting the delivery of this project: Heritage Lottery Fund, Scottish Natural Heritage, Caithness and North Sutherland Fund, Postcode Community Trust, A E H Salvesen Charitable Trust, James T Howat Charitable Trust, Mary Andrew Charitable Trust, Mitchell Trust, Robert O Curle Charitable Trust, and Susan H Guy Charitable Trust.

Get involved

Please check our Volunteering Opportunities page for details of how to get involved with this project.

For more information about this project please contact

Photo credit: Mary Harris.

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Registered Charity No. 1115634 / Scottish Charity No. SC042830

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