Tuesday, 23 May 2017

"The boys are out" !!!

After what seemed like a twenty four hour deluge of rain, the last thing I was expecting to see were Bumblebee's, albeit very small Bumblebees, but there they were, at least five Early Nesting Bumblebees drinking up nectar from the flowers of a huge aromatic Umbellifer. possibly Common Hogweed, I'm not sure and must admit to a distinct lack of knowledge when it comes to identifying specimens from this group of plants.

Fortunately the flower heads were at  eye level so photographing this little Bumblebee was made a lot easier for a change. my first impression because of the size, were that these were Early Bumblebee workers, totally wrong, closer inspection reveals a wide yellow band on the shoulders and yellow hairs on the head making these all males.

The Early Nesting Bumblebee is one of the short-tongued Bumblebees, and this photograph clearly shows that, and the yellow hair on the head.

There is another identifying factor, if you manage to get a close view, males do not have pollen baskets on the back legs.

Because this Bumblebee is an early nesting Bumblebee, some literature suggests that this species of Bumblebee may be able to go through two colony cycles in a year, males do not normally appear until the end of a colony cycle.

 Once the males leave the nesting colony they do not return, so seeing these males frantically feeding in the early morning suggests that they may have rested all night under the flower heads for easy access to the nectar at the start of the day, allowing them to warm up.

Sadly this probably means that this colony is coming to the end of its life.

These males now have one aim, and that is to mate, they will patrol a circuit laying down a scent at strategic spots in order to attract a newly emerged queen who will hopefully find the scent so irresistible that she will allow him to mate with her.

I will have to keep a lookout for newly emerged Queens now. 

Any help on the identity of this Umbellifer would be appreciated, if my initial I.D. is wrong.


  1. Early bumblebees very busy near me, more workers out on the flowers than other species at the moment.