Monday, 28 November 2016

The Magnificent Seven

I have been taking more and more notice of the bumblebees in the garden over the last few years and learning to identify them.  Some are relatively straightforward but the black/yellow/white ones are sometimes less easy.  This year for the first time I have been logging them each week for the BTO Garden BirdWatch which passes the data on to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT).  I am delighted to say that I have seen all seven common bumblebee species in the garden during the year.

The first buff-tailed bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) appeared in week 12 (beginning 13th March) and the last were seen in week 40 (beginning 25th September).  This is a queen on apple blossom.

The first tree bumblebees (Bombus hypnorum) also appeared in week 12 and the last in week 39.  This one is a male on geranium.

Red-tailed bumblebees (Bombus lapidarius) were seen from week 15 to week 39.  This queen has red pollen on her face to match her tail.

Common carder bees (Bombus pascuorum) were present from week 15 to week 43 (beginning 16th October) making them the last to disappear.  This one is on apple blossom.

Early bumblebees (Bombus pratorum) were seen from week 17 to week 29 so, although not the earliest to appear they had the shortest season and were first to disappear (hence the name).  The first is a male collecting nectar from Cirsium rivulare, the second is a queen.

Garden bumblebees (Bombus hortorum) flew from week 17 to week 39.  This queen is on grape hyacinth.  As you can see she has a very long tongue.

White-tailed bumblebees (Bombus lucorum) were the last to appear and flew from week 25 to week 40.  This one is on Inula.

So in my garden the buff-tailed and common carder bees had the longest season at 29 weeks and the early bumblebee the shortest at 13 weeks.

I also saw lots of cuckoo bumblebees in the summer but they are a bit harder (for me) to identify so I am less sure of their flight period.  These could be vestal cuckoo bees (Bombus vestalis) or gypsy cuckoo bees(Bombus bohemicus).

I think this is a male forest cuckoo bumblebee (Bombus sylvestris).

I'll keep a close eye on them all next year and hope to get a bit better at identifying the cuckoo bees.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful photographs of the bumbles. Many thanks. :)