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Scilly bee

Once known from all the inhabited and many uninhabited islands of Scilly. This bee is scarce and declining in numbers. The Scilly bee is found on coastal edge habitat and likes to feed on common bird’s-foot-trefoil and bell heather.

Scilly bee - Bombus muscorum scyllonius - Moss carder bee
Flight period: May to September

Scilly bee, Bombus muscorum scyllonius

Its stronghold is now the open coastal grassland and heathland of St. Agnes. In recent years it has also been seen in small numbers on Tresco, St. Mary’s and the uninhabited islands of Great Ganilly and Great Arthur.

The Scilly bee is easily recognised as it is the only brown or orange-brown bumblebee on the islands.

Many bees have no common English name, only a Latin name. The name ‘Scilly bee’ was first used by Andrew Cooper, when making a television film in the 1980s about Scilly's wildlife. The name ‘Scilly bee’ has since been widely adopted.

Scilly bee, photograph by Andrew Cooper

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