January 31, 2019

Where are our disappearing bees?

Harriette Yarrington


Machair is one of the rarest habitats in the world, most abundant on the outer isles of western Scotland. Created by windblown shell sand, forming a flat plain of alkaline soil in the shelter of dunes, the Machair is abundant with wild flowers. I imagine it as braid of flowers binding the sea to the heather strewn peat. Here is a haven for the bees, the Great Yellow bumblebee, the second rarest in the UK, finds sanctuary amongst its Red Clover and Birdsfoot Trefoil. It makes me think of the lines from Auld lang syne “But seas between us braid hae roar’d”; the sea not only divides us from these species, but also protects them from the destructive agricultural practices of mainland Scotland. How long till more of our bumblebee populations disappear from our fields, meadows and hedgerows? Will we then sing, “Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind,” for the forgotten bees that have left our shores, never to return? This sculpture of a Great Yellow bumblebee nest meditates on those thoughts and seeks to reveal the bee’s secret life, in the hope that increasing understanding will help us learn to conserve them.

Seas Between us Braid Hae Roar’d