Thursday, 9 April 2015

Common carder bee

It has been a delight to see bumblebees out and about over the past couple of weeks.  So far I have seen white-tailed, buff-tailed, red-tailed and tree bumblebees but not an early bumblebee, despite its name.  This afternoon I rescued a common carder queen (Bombus pascuorum) from the greenhouse.  She looked exhausted and couldn't fly off.

I gave her a drop of strong sugar syrup and she perked up very quickly.  While she was drinking I had the opportunity to take a few photos.  Close up the bee's proboscis is amazing.  It consists of a stiffer outer split tube, formed by the mandibles, and a longer, flexible, extendable inner tongue which is hairy at the end and is used to lap up the sugar. Normally of course the tongue is poked down the inside of a flower.  Bumblebees have longer tongues than honey bees and can drink nectar from deeper flowers.

After a few minutes this bee flew off.  Let's hope she establishes a successful nest and learns to stay out of the greenhouse.

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