The Red-tailed Bumblebee flew in and starting feeding on crocuses in the garden today. Another very easy to identify Bumblebee, like the Tree Bumblebee the other day, and another of the “big seven” widely distributed Bumbles. As with al Bumblebees, it will only be the larger Queens that are alive and about now- when they appear, the workers have the same distinctive colouring but are much smaller, while the males have the same tail colour but have some yellow facial markings, so it is worth tuning into this species while it is at its easiest! As well as feeding, the Queens will be looking for rodent holes and other underground nest sites– their colonies will eventually number between
Worker Red-tailed Bumblebee from last summer
Red-tailed Bumblebee from last summer
Conditions: Another beautiful but disturbingly warm, sunny day. Temperature: Max 18 Min 5 C.
The Great British Bee Count is underway again between now and the end of June. It is easy to download the free app from Friends of the Earth and you can record as often as you like and from wherever you like- garden, park, walk, work or school grounds etc. Here are a couple of the easier Bumble Bees to identify, but there is a guide to help you on the app: The Red-tailed Bumblebee and the Tree Bumblebee in our garden in Sheffield. I won’t be near wi-
Red Tailed Bumblebee
fi much over the next couple of weeks so there won’t be much blog activity, but then it should resume as usual. Conditions: Continuing the recent days of blue sky. Temperature: Max 18 Min 7 C.
Red-tailed Bumblebee– This is a fairly common Bumblebee, and we have had a lot of workers in the garden lately, especially on the Knapweed and Allium. The Queen, which emerges to feed in spring, is bigger, and has a black body and red-orange tail, while the male workers, out gathering food now, are small, with two yellow bands on the thorax and a bright orangish tail. These Bumblebees have quite short probosces so can’t feed on flowers with long tubes and prefer flowers with good landing platforms which they can walk around on. They only collect nectar as they have no pollen baskets. Different tongue lengths and feeding habits allow different bees to exploit different food-sources, a bit like waders exploit different foods in estuarine mud. Conditions: Cloud with sunny intervals. Temperature: Max 20- Min 13 c
Though small, the worker Red-tailed Bumblebee shows up brightly at this time of year
The worker bee has amber stripes on its thorax.
The Queen Red-tailed Bumblebee is larger and darker and emerges in spring
Worker Red-tailed Bumblebees speed from plant to plant, gathering nectar