Tiree Tea

Taste the islands in a cup

Machair Flowers and the Great Yellow Bumblebee!

Rhoda kneeling in the Machair flowers in Tiree
Rhoda from Tiree Tea kneeling in the Machair

Often mis-pronounced by celebrities, the pronounciation of machair (the “ch” is hard, like in “loch”) is a crucial part of the ecosystem across the Hebrides. Subsequently, it is the inspiration behind the Machair Herbal Infusion.

GYBB queen on knapweed, John Bowler
GYBB queen on knapweed, John Bowler

Machair is made from sandy soil running down to the shore. It is an incredibly rich habitat, often carpeted with stunning wild flowers in the spring and summer.

The ground is grazed by sheep and cattle in the winter and left ungrazed in the summer to encourage the flowers. This creates a wonderful habitat for insects.

One of the rarest bees in the UK makes its home on the machair – the Great Yellow Bumblebee.

You can identify The Great Yellow Bumblebee (GYBB) by its yellow or yellowish-brown colouring with a distinct band of black hairs between the wings.

Because of because of changing farming practices they have declined 80% in the last century . As a result, you can only find great yellow bumblebees in some islands of Scotland (including Tiree). You can also find them in Caithness and Sutherland in the North.

The main causes of decline are the loss of flower-rich meadows and more intense farming and grazing practices. Tiree is home to one of the largest populations of great yellow bumblebees in the UK because of its machair habitat and wildlife-friendly land management. Due to that, it is an important refuge nationally. Sadly, even here, the bees are struggling.

Find out more about the projects to support the Great Yellow Bumblebee in Tiree by visiting their website – https://friendsoftiree.org.uk/bees


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