Saturday, 22 March 2014

A Bumblebee, no longer so humble !!!

The recent warm spring days have released the Queen Bumblebees from their winter hibernation, and this seemingly insignificant shrub Ribes Sanguineum or Flowering Currant in my garden has been the centre of their attention.

Like a Buddleia is to Butterflies, this Flowering currant has attracted Bumblebees from afar,  providing a much needed  source of pollen and nectar when most flowers are only just emerging.

Bumblebee's first grabbed my attention last year in August when I managed to see White Tailed, Buff Tailed, Red Tailed and Tree Bumblebees, four out of the six most common Bumblebees to be seen.

The large number of Bumblebee's around the Flowering Currant had caught my eye, and I was hooked on looking for the missing two.

To my surprise, almost the first Bumblebee seen and photographed was  Bombus Hortorum the Garden Bumblebee,
 one of which I was keen to see.
This  apparently, is quite common and one of the smaller Bumblebees, identified  by the two yellow bands on the thorax, and single yellow band at the top of the abdomen with a white tail, it also has one of the longest tongues of any of the bumblebees found in the UK, this can be seen in one of the photo's below.


Next to show was the the Early Bumblebee or Early-nesting Bumblebee Bombus pratorum .
Another very small Bumblebee, which flies early between March and July, which is probably why I missed it last year.
Quite easy to identify with a bright orange tail, yellow band at the top of the abdomen , yellow band at the top of the thorax.

Early Bumblebee  Worker

In the space of two or three days in March, the flowering Currant shrub had been visited by all six of the common Bumblebees.
By far the most numerous were the Early Bumblebee and the Garden Bumblebee.

The largest Bumblebee seen on the shrub was this Buff Tailed Bumblebee  Bombus terrestris, another bumblebee that emerges in early March.

The White tailed Bumblebee Bombus lucorum was also seen on a few occassions.
You can just make out a tiny Bumblebee mite on this White Tailed Bumblebee, near the top of the abdomen, most are harmless to the bee, they feed on wax, pollen and nest debris, as they reach a certain stage in their life cycle, they cling to a worker bumblebee and are transferred to flowers,where they will attach to other bees and be transported to new nests.

The Red tailed Bumblebee Bombus lapidarius seemed much scarcer at this time, only a few individuals being seen.

Not sure if this Tree Bumblebee is included in the  six most commonest, but here it is, on the Flowering currant taking its share of nectar and pollen.

While watching these Bumblebee's, I noticed a very fast flying,  black miniature Bumblebee, after some investigation I realised it was a type of solitary Bee known as the

Hairy-footed Flower Bee Anthophora plumipes

What a great name for a little bee, the bee in question was a female as shown below, one of the fastest flying bee's we have, and not easy to photograph.

Female Hairy-footed Flower Bee
Male Hairy- footed Flower Bee

So in a few short days in March, six different types of Bumblebee have visited  one small shrub in the garden, plus one interesting little bee.

One other bumblebee that has escaped my attention at the moment is the Carder Bee Bombus pascuorum.
I would be very surprised if this turns up in the garden, but you never know,
so a  good excuse to keep looking.......

No comments:

Post a Comment