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Spring 2017 Bumblebees.

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Dear All

This New Topic has been opened in the hope of gathering your observations of queen bumblebees as they emerge during Spring 2017 and establish their new nests.  There have already been some reports during the early Spring, which can be found on this Forum in   “Bumblebee activity in late Autumn 2016 and Winter 2016/2017”.

Beautiful sunny day today in North East Hampshire with quite a lot of bumblebee activity - two B.hypnorum queens collecting pollen.  Also Anthrophora plumipes and the first Bombylius major of the year.

SteveF
15 Mar 2017
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Hi SteveF,
The wind has been strong and cold these last couple of days, but I have still seen a B. terr queen, and a dark form of B. hyp queen, searching for nest sites; and the male and female Anthophora plumipes are busy too. Keep watch!  Urbanbumble

     
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Hallo Urbanbumble

Good to hear that your bumblebees in the Leicester area are still active, even if the weather has not been very good.  I have also seen a few B.hypnorum queens this spring with dark colouration on the thorax.

In North East Hampshire and the surrounding area the weather during the first half of March has been on the mild side.  Only the odd day with good sunshine, but no frosts.  In consequence there are plenty of early spring flowers starting to show in the gardens and even some wild flowers in the countryside (sallow, gorse, primroses, etc).

All the “Big Six” bumblebees and B,hypnorum are now active in N.E.Hants.  Some queens of B,terrestris, B.pratorum and B.hypnorum are now collecting pollen.  The first B.lapidarius was seen near Alton on 9 Mar with two more seen yesterday near Windsor.  The first B.hortorum was also seen on 9 Mar.  The first B.pascuorum queen was seen here on 17 Mar with another one yesterday.  B.lucorum is also active.  The bonus yesterday was the first female B.vestalis.  This is definitely early for this part of the country.  I have also seen a few B.jonellus queens collecting pollen on winter heathers (even one this morning when it was overcast, breezy, mild and damp - before rain and colder, clearer air arrived this afternoon).  All this seems to show that the bumblebees in this area are acting as though Spring is just around the corner.

Of the non-bumblebee signs of spring, the first female Anthrophora plumipes was seen collecting pollen on 17 Mar.  Just one Bombylius major on 15 Mar.  Queens of the common social wasps Vespula vulgaris active .  The first Andrena fulva yesterday.

The forecast for the next few days is for much colder weather which will certainly put the brakes on for any bumblebee activity.  I hope we do not suffer any frosts that damage the flowers which are already out.

SteveF
20:05   Monday 20 Mar 2017
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Hi SteveF,
Still limited to three species as before - B. terr, B.hyp. and B. pratorum - all queens.  The wet weather/strong cold winds has limited bumble activity, although I’ve seen one B. hypnorum queen checking out an empty bluetit box [that they have used in previous years].  The Anthophoras [m& f] are still dashing about   I did see a Bombus pratorum queen foraging Rhododendron flowers at my local plant nursery a couple of days ago - and there was a passing sleet shower too [bouncing rain!]  at the same time!  Urbanbumble