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variant of bombus lapidarius?

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Total Posts: 9

Joined 2014-05-14

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Hello,

This is my first post on the forum.  First of all, it’s great to find a website that is really dedicated to the bumblebees.  I’m living in Belgium and this is the third season I am busy with trying to help the bumblebees on my side.  My story with the bumblebees began in June 2012 when I was sawing a heap of wood.  The heap had to be moved because of a building extension.  When I was almost done, I found a bombus terrestris nest under it.  At that time, I didn’t know anything about bumblebees.  I just could make the difference between a honeybee, a wasp and a bumblebee.  I called the the fire brigade but when I told them the word “bumblebee” they were not allowed to help me because this species was protected.  I took the nest with gloves and put it at another place.  Atfer some reading on the internet, I found it was possible to hold them in a nest box.  My son had built a bird nest box at school and it was still free, so the day after, and I moved them again in this nest box.  They survived and new queens were born.  During the next winter I have read a lot on the bumblebees.  I learnt that bird boxes are not ideal for the bumblebees. The entrance hole is too large and there is no protection for the aphomia sociella (bee moth).  Another problem was the aeration.  A bumblebee nest produces a lot of humidity.  So I made my first nest box based on some examples I came across the internet.  I also transformed the existing other bird nest box.  So in 2013 I had 2 common carder bees in both boxes.  Last winter I made several other nest boxes and most them are now populated with bumblebees.  I’ll also post some pictures of my nest boxes.  Next to this, I sowed some wild flowers in my garden and also with permission of the farmer, I sowed a corner of his land to put some more wild flowers. 

This is one of my hosts.  Can anyone help me to identify this one?  My guess is a variant of the bombus lapidarus.  It is mainly black and has an orange tail and a yellow band on the thorax - see picture.  it is foraging on borage flowers.

Sorry for the spelling errors in my English.

Kind regards,
Andrew

 

     

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Total Posts: 101

Joined 2012-05-31

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Hello Andrew

thanks for sharing your story. The bumblebees there are so lucky to have you looking out for them.
On the continent you will have more species of bumblebees than we have here in the UK (only 24 species) so it may not always be possible to identify your bumbles.

But the one you have photographed looks very much like a Bombus pratorum (in English they are called ‘Early bumblebees’).
They are almost the smallest of the bumblebees. They have short red/orange tails and a bright yellow collar (the band behind the head). The queens often have a second yellow band on the first segment of the abdomen and this second band can be present or missing in the worker caste. It looks to be missing in the bee in your photo.

I hope this ID is correct and it’s not a european bumblebee that I’m not familiar with,

All the best for a great bumblebee season, elaine

     
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Total Posts: 111

Joined 2013-01-10

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Hi Andrew ,  welcome to the forum.

You beat me to it Elaine -  A Bombus lapidarius drone might also have a yellow band on its thorax, however it is a bit early for male B. laps to be around, and in any case, the bumble in your pic has a pollen load on its back legs and therefore is female not male.  So I think it is a Bombus pratorum worker foraging the borage.

urbanbumble

     
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Joined 2014-05-14

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Hi thanks

for your help.

The strange thing is that in that same nest, there are also much larger workers that are completely black with an orange tail.  For that reason, I thought these were all bombus lapidarius.    I’ll try to make a picture of one of these larger workers.

Andrew

     
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Total Posts: 111

Joined 2013-01-10

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Hi Andrew again,

Please do try to get a pic of the larger workers for us to see.  Intriguing!  As Elaine mentioned, maybe your bumble is a different continental species after all.  Perhaps someone else from Belgium might give us a better answer?
urbanbumble