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Photo: Bilberry bumblebee (Bombus monticola) by Jamie Buxton-Gould

Skills for Bees: Scotland

Nurture an enthusiastic community of bumblebee surveyors in an area where we know surprisingly little about bumblebees – the Cairngorms National Park, Scotland.

A Bilberry bumblebee feeding on a flower.
Bumblebee on lid of pot ready to ID

Photo: Jamie Buxton Gould

Our Skills for Bees: Scotland is providing training opportunities and mentoring to communities in the Cairngorms, enabling them to contribute valuable data and help us understand how bumblebees are faring in a huge but traditionally under-recorded area of Scotland. This work will help safeguard the future of bumblebees in the Cairngorms.

The project covers all bumblebee species found in the National Park, but with a specific focus on three nationally rare species: the Broken-belted bumblebee (Bombus soroeensis), Bilberry bumblebee (Bombus monticola) and Moss carder bumblebee (Bombus muscorum). We are running targeted training and survey days to look for these rare species in key areas identified through extensive mapping and habitat association analysis. Other activities include online and in-person workshops training people in bumblebee identification, monitoring and recording at entry, intermediate and advanced levels, plus field survey days and refresher sessions.

Scotland is home to 20 of our 24 UK bumblebee species, including some of our rarest species. The Cairngorms National Park is the largest National Park in the UK – twice the size of the Lake District National Park, and bigger than the whole of Luxembourg! It’s home to a huge variety of habitats, plants and wildlife, some of which aren’t found anywhere else in the UK. Despite this richness, we lack detailed and up-to-date knowledge about exactly which bumblebee species are found there and how well they are doing, simply because there aren’t many people looking for them!

We aim to create a legacy of highly-skilled, supported and confident network of bumblebee recorders in the project area.

© Jamie Buxton-GouldA Bilberry bumbleblee hanging upside down on a purple flower, which it is feeding from.

Partners and collaborators

The Trust will be working with Cairngorms National Park Authority and North East Scotland Biological Records Centre.


Thank you to NatureScot, Russell Trust, Miss A M Pilkington Charitable Trust, T D Paton Trust, Hugh Fraser Foundation, Monamy Trust, The Cadogan Charity, Cairngorms Trust and the Ronald Miller Foundation.

Further information

If you live or work in the Cairngorms area, and are interested in learning more about the project, joining training or field days, or assisting at volunteering events, please email