On a recent Bee walk I encountered, or was encountered by, a large bee flying at speed across open ground. Instead of flying straight on above me as I expected, it did several turns around me which included coming close up to my face. I have noticed something similar when watching bees collecting nectar or pollen and flying out in a way that seemed almost deliberately ‘in my face’. I wonder if anyone else has experienced this or has an explanation. Or is it just my paranoia?!
I suppose you might also have an attractive or memorable face !
But seriously and I’m going from memory here: but I suggest that you take a look at Prof Dave Goulson’s book ‘Bumblebees, behaviour, ecology & conservation’. This is a mine of information on bumblebees and technical but not too difficult to read.
ISBN 978-0-19-9553907-5 for the paperback version.
In it, if my memory is correct, he tells of something similar and thought that maybe the bee was treating him as a landmark, so swotting up his coordinates in the landscape !
He also thought that some species do this more than others.
I hope this might be useful. Yours Clive
PS. If you were to buy yourself the book from Amazon, don’t forget to sign in via the BBCT link, then BBCT will gain a donation from Amazon and at no extra cost to you.
Thanks, Clive. I have started looking up for a reference in my copy of Coulson , which I’m lucky enough to own, but not found any so far - will keep looking! I was very interested by your posts on queen dispersal, watching queens speeding across the fields, and wonder if there might be a connection with possible checking out of landmarks?
Hi again Kit,
Since you wrote the above I’ve now found the information I was referring to.
It is in Dave Goulson’s second book “Bumblebees behaviour, ecology, and conservation.
Page 97. And listed in the index under ‘Landmarks’.
( I tried to find it in his first book too, but was not successful - but it might be there somewhere ! )
He says that B. pascuorum, pratorum and hortorum almost never circle humans; whereas lapidarius, terrestris and soroensis (this is a rare species) do.
And there’s a reference to a 2004 paper about the behaviour.
And he proposes that the bee is “investigating and memorising the human as a novel landmark”.
See if you can find it from the above !
Many thanks, Clive.
It is Goulson’s second book I have, so I have now found the reference on p.97. I’m fairly sure the circling bee was a lapidarius queen (but could be wrong), which makes a slightly different situation from Goulson’s foraging bees. Anyway, plenty to wonder about. I like the idea of being a ‘novel landmark’!