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Stripy, Orange and Black!

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Total Posts: 13

Joined 2013-02-03

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Hi all,
great to see some fuzzy buzzy bees out on the garden at last, snapped a few pics, wondered if people could help in the ID. i’ll put links to prevent large pics filling the thread.

stripy :
http://imageshack.us/a/img199/5629/beegrasscrop.jpg
this one was having a bit buzz at a flower then flew away and decided to land on the grass, dunno if it was tired? from ym BCT guide i’m guessing a male buff, as he wasn’t that big?

orange:
http://imageshack.us/a/img833/5664/orangebeecrop.jpg
http://img203.imageshack.us/img203/5344/orangebee2crop.jpg
i’m guessing a queen carder?

black:
http://imageshack.us/a/img803/3374/blackbeecrop.jpg
thought this was gorgeous. spotted it on the ground by a log cos it waved at me when i was walking past, they usually do that if you find one in a house and they’re tired and bothered, so i snapped the one pic and ran to get some sugar water for it. was gone when i came back :-(
from the guide, i’m guessing a male field cuckoo bee. the only other in the book is a queen ruderal and this wasn’t big enough, i think, and i’m in Newcastle upon Tyne which is outside their area.

many thanks!

     
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Total Posts: 101

Joined 2012-05-31

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Hi Sabre Wolf

thank you for the photos.

The stripey bee could be either a Buff-tailed or a White-tailed bumblebee. You do need a good view of the tail to discriminate these two. The yellow in Buff-tailed is also more golden and darker whereas the yellow in White-tailed bees is much brighter, more lemon.

You are spot on with the orange bee. These are Common carder bees. These are generally ginger all over but do have varying amounts of ginger and black on the abdomen. Definitely female and probably queens given the late season.

Your black bee is intriguing. It does look like a bumblebee. Did you see the tail at all? Our Red-tailed bumblebees have this lovely velvety coat with a bright red tail. There is a scarcer bee that is often all black called the Ruderal bumblebee but this bumblebee has a much more southerly distribution.

Keep photographing and your ID will improve quickly.
Think about using our BeeWatch site for uploading photos and getting feedback on the identification.

http://homepages.abdn.ac.uk/wpn003/beewatch/

regards, elaine

     
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Total Posts: 13

Joined 2013-02-03

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thanks for the info. i didn’t get to see the bee’s tail, he was backed up to a piece of log in the garden. i snapped one pic but wanted to try and help him out w/ some sugar water before taking more pics, but i guess he had other ideas! was gorgeous whatever make and model he was, can’t recall having seen a totally black bee before.

signed up to beewatch too, thanks for the tip.

     
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Total Posts: 272

Joined 2012-05-24

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Hello Sabre Wolf,

Your black bee has the lovely velvety black fur that is seen on the Red-tailed bumblebee, (Bombus lapidarius) so my money would be on this species.  If it was one of these, the tail would be a strong ‘orangey-red’ colour.

She also has several little brown ‘blobs’ attached to her fur just behind her head. 
These tell me that she is an over-wintered bumblebee queen, who often have these on-board when they are not long out of hibernation.

The blobs are “phoretic mites” an over-wintering stage of a type of mite that lives in bumblebee nests and eats the detritus (grunge / rubbish) that accumulates there - without causing any harm to the bee colony.
These mites jumped aboard while she was in her parental nest last summer, stayed with her while she was hibernating over winter and will stay as passengers with her until she founds her own nest.

Elaine has mentioned two possible I/Ds.  If you lived further south there could be a third one, which is a Cuckoo bee (B. rupestris) which in the few specimens that I’ve seen has extremely dark wings and rather sparse fur - but this species has a range well to the south of you.

Keep watching and photographing !
And if you ever get cross that photos lack sharpness, try using a Monopod to support the camera. 
I find that using one of these makes for a big improvement in image clarity - but then I’m getting a bit old and doddery !

Yours       Clive

     
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Total Posts: 13

Joined 2013-02-03

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cool, thanks for the info Clive! i never even noticed those blobs as being mites, you must have good eyes! good to know they’re harmless ones.

i have a cheapy tripod, but flowers are scarce in the garden and i was just wandering about hoping to catch something by chance. if we get some good blooms later in the year and some good buzzer traffic to them, i’ll try setting up the cam and seeing if i can get any decent shots.

     
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Total Posts: 272

Joined 2012-05-24

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Hi again Sabre Wolf,

Thanks for your feedback.
The mites are very common on bumblebee queens that have come out of hibernation, so I’ve got plenty of photos of my own showing them.

If ever you were to get an opportunity to see inside a real living bumblebee colony, you’d probably be amazed at the numbers of little brown mites crawling about over everything !  (Alternatively, take a look on Youtube and have a browse round, perhaps searching for bumblebee nest or somesuch.)

Yes, a tripod would be worth trying, but I found that tripods are a bit awkward to use if you are trying to chase a foraging bee, because it is difficult to keep up with them. 
Here I find a monopod much quicker to use and great for still photos, but if you are trying for a movie (video clip) then the rigidity and lack of swaying about of a tripod really comes into it’s own, whereas a monopod still allows you to sway backwards and forwards, or side to side and this results in an unsteady image which quickly shows !

As to flowers, I found last year that putting a potted Fuschia on a low table in the garden often attracted bumbles to it.  But you need to choose a variety with single flowers, not double flowers.
Lavender plants are also good, and could be in a pot too - but again, go for the simple flower types.

It sounds a bit like we are getting you interested and perhaps hooked on a new interest, so I hope you enjoy bumble-watching over the coming months.

Yours       Clive