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First bumble’s of 2013

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I saw my first bumblebee queen last week (Leicester) It was very large so I think it was a buff tail….but I could be wrong. Today (1/5/13) I saw a tree bumblebee worker, and 2 other workers (probably buff tail).

I saw a bee-fly today I’ve never noticed one in the garden before.

     
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All is going quiet on the bumblebee front, down here in South Bucks.

And I’ve still not seen any Redtailed BBs this year.

As to the others, Buff, White, Tree, Garden and Carder, I’m now seeing noticeably fewer bumblebees foraging, or nest searching, despite the warmer drier weather we have had pretty consistently.

Hopefully this is just the “lull before the storm” and worker bumbles will emerge in 2 - 4 weeks time from the nests whose queens are stuck indoors incubating their brood.

There are plenty of Maple trees in full flower locally and the Sycamore trees are starting to flower too; also Blackcurrant bushes in flower.

Anthophora plumipes bees are working the cowslips in my garden.
(These are the little all black BB look-alikes with large yellow corbiculae on their hind legs.)

Clive

     
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ooooh I wondered what the black ones were….saw them last year. Thanks Clive smile

     
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At last!  Today,  I had my first sighting in 2013 of a queen Bombus lapidarius.
urbanbumble

     
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My first sighting this year was on 18 April - a blustery early evening when I saw one at a bit of a distance swaying back and forth in front of a bush (looking for a nest?) about 1 foot form the ground. But the numbers since seem low for our garden. We live outside Edinburgh in Midlothian.

     
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Hi All,

Today (8/5/13) I have seen my first B. lapidarius (Red Tailed BB) Queen of the year.
She was working Gorse flowers - I imagine for pollen. 
I got one rather blurred photo.  It has some yellow splodges near where her hind legs should be, but insufficient detail to be sure.
Wycombe area of South Bucks.

This completes my “7 common species” (Big 6 + hypnorum) this year.
Just some Cuckoos to go I hope.

Interestingly a few years ago there was an early B. lapidarius queen resting at the same gorse patch: so I wonder if they regularly work Gorse ?

Clive

     
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I was very pleased to see my first B pascuorum queen yesterday.  She was very busy on my various pulmonaria plants and also Cytisus bush and had very full pollen baskets.

Sparrow - Sue

     
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1st active B. hypnorum colony this year !

This morning I saw my first BB colony, and 1st workers of the year.

A very dark B. hypnorum colony with regular flights to / from the nest and yellow pollen going in.
A few minutes between flights, so the colony must be quite small; and no sign of any drone activity yet.

They are using an airbrick to access what must be the roof-space above a ground floor extension in High Wycombe.
Southerly aspect.
Plenty of seasonal spring flowers about, from Dandelion at ground level to Apple and Sycamore trees flowerig too. 

Has anybody else seen any BB nest flights yet this year ?

Clive

PS.  I’ve also posted this info in the Tree Bumblebee 2013 thread.

     
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Saw my first worker this week , a B. Pratorum (Early).  It was very small and had stopped on a sunny wall with a heavy load of pollen before flying off.  Queens of all kinds still sparse here (edge of town Suffolk).

     
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Saw my first one this year on 6th June. Haven’t a clue which kind it was though!

Pat

     

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Hello Pat,

You’ve taken a rather good photo of a Tree Bumblebee (B. hypnorum) from an unusual angle !

The thorax fur is just visible and orangey brown, most of the abdomen is black and the tail is white.

This is our “New Bee” first found in the UK in 2001 and now spread throughout England, knocking on the door to Scotland and in much of Wales too.

You’ll find an article I recently wrote about it for a Beekeeper’s Magazine called BeeCraft.
There’s a link to this in the About Bees part of this BBCT website, under FAQs, then “Moving bumblebee Nests”.
You might find it interesting !

Yours       Clive

PS.  By the way, I presume that you mean May, not June ?

     
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Thanks for that interesting reply, Clive - yes, May, just checking you were paying attention smile
I took a photo of the rear end as somebody once told me that was the bit that mattered for ID. I have one of the face as well! We have so few bees just here although I live in a very rural environment next to rough grazing for livestock on the island of Seil, west coast of Scotland. 

I’ll go and look for your article, thanks for that,  at the moment I’m reading A Sting in the Tale which is hard to put down!

Regards
Pat

     
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Here’s the face to go with the bumble bee’s bum!

Pat

     

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Hi again Pat,

Thanks for posting the second photo.
An important question : Was the thorax all one colour, or where there stripes in it ?

If it was all the one colour, I think that would confirm the identification from appearance as being of the Tree Bumblebee, Bombus hypnorum.
And if all the above is hunky dory, then you might just have a record on your hands of the first record of the species in Scotland !

Then there will be queries as to how it got over to your Island ?

I will ask Elaine O’Mahony at BBCT, who is the “Records person” at BBCT, to take a look at your photos and information.

Meanwhile ....... Congratulations from me if the diagnosis is correct.

And if you can’t find that article, I’ll send you one direct if you let me know the right email address.

Yours     Clive

     
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Thanks Clive. I’ll attach the only other photos I have, thay’re not very good though. Although this is an island we are only a few yards from the mainland -  connected by a bridge - about 15 miles south of Oban. I found the article, brilliant!

Pat

     

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