Can anyone advise me about the best way to learn about bumblebee identification. A book would be great but by the time I’ve flicked through the pages bumble has flown off & a hover fly has turned up. Are there factsheets with pictures in a compact, easily carried, layout? I’d love to attend a course or class where I could ask questions about these things. Do courses exist in Northern Ireland? It’s not just the bees I’d like to identify but I imagine that if I knew the names of the flowers & plants that bees are attracted too, then that would be a huge bonus.
Welcome to the Forum - and I’m sorry that it has taken us Forum users so long to get back to you !
When I was first getting interested in bumblebees I found it a rather “steep learning curve” to start with, but then realised that in most parts of the UK there were only six common types of bumblebee to learn - and this made the task less daunting.
You should find some useful info on the BBCT website in the “About Bees” area and you should be able to print out copies of some of the guidance. If you want to get a book, I’d start with the “Field Guide to the Bumblebees of Great Britain and Ireland” by Mike Edwards and Martin Jenner. This is arranged using the bee’s fur colour patterns and gives you photos too. I think this is about £10. For a good read and wide-ranging introduction to bumblebees and the science that is slowly helping us understand them better, try Dave Goulson’s new book “A Sting in the Tale”.
For a really readable introduction to bumblebees, try Alford’s “The Life of the Bumblebee” which is quite old, but has been re-published as an A5 size paperback.
As to flowers, I find the photo guide type books a great help.
Enjoy your new interest ! Yours Clive