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Buff-tailed bumblebee queen identification

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Joined 2012-05-22

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Queens of the Buff-tailed bumblebee, Bombus terrestris are usually the first to emerge from hibernation in the UK. The queens are huge – about 3cm and quite fat in appearance. You’ll often find them whizzing by overhead, as they fly long distances to find nest sites. When looking for their nests, you’ll see them flying close to the ground, investigating little holes and really looking like they are searching for something. That’s because they are!

To identify this species, we need to look at the yellow bands and the colour of the tail. From the images here, you can see that she has two thick, dark yellow bands on her body – one near the head, the other near her middle. The tail is buff, but is sometimes creamy, or almost brown. When you see this bee (or any other) have a look at her hind leg. If you can see a large clump of pollen on it, that means she has found a nest, and is collecting food to store for her offspring, which won’t appear from the nest until another month or so. Have a look at the photos attached to see how they look.

For more help in identifying bumblebees, visit the Identification section of our website, here: http://bumblebeeconservation.org/about-bees/identification/

Post any photos you get of Buff-tailed queens to this topic.

     

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buff-tailed_bumblebee_2.jpgbuff-tailed_bumblebee_3.jpg

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Total Posts: 77

Joined 2012-05-23

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Anthony,

What is the plant in the second picture with tiny red flowers?  It looks like a shrub but I am unable to identify it.

I keep looking but nothing yet.

Sparrow - Sue

     
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Hi Sue

It is cotoneaster. It’s a great plant for bees, but unfortunately it can be quite invasive and spreads easily, causing damage to natural environments. No bees here yet either!

     
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Thank you, yes I do have in my garden.  This is a plant my grandmother insisted was called Cotton Easter, (sorry quite irrelevant). 
Sparrow - Sue