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Its that time of year again

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Hi everyone,
Its that time of year again when nobody reports anything about their bumbles - so as I’m doing a bit of gardening, I noticed that long-tongued Bombus pascuorum bumbles are still visiting the red runner bean flowers and pollinating them properly, so that I’m getting an ongoing good crop of beans.  The short-tongued bumbles tend to nip around the back of the flowers & bite a hole to access the nectar without pollinating properly.  What are your “gardeners friends” bumbles doing around your garden?
urbanbumble

     
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Hallo Urbanbumble

The number of bumblebees in this area (NE Hampshire) both in the garden and in the local countryside is declining.  There are a few B.pascuorum workers on garden flowers - scabious, borage - and in the countryside - comfrey, scabious, blackberry -.  Fewer B.terrestris workers.  I have seen a few B.lapidarius - workers and males-.  I have recently seen two B.hortorum - males.  A recent surprise was a fresh B.hypnorum queen.  There are now few flowers in the open countryside due to a lot of dry weather here recently but there are still quite a lot in some gardens.

On a much more general point I get the impression from personal observations that many flying insects have had rather a poor summer season.  Bumblebees below average, social wasps well below average, hornets low, butterflies in general below average, very few ladybirds, fewer dragonflies, few nests with male flying ants.      I get the impression that cool, cloudy conditions, with less sunshine and more rain in the early summer had an adverse effect in this area (NE Hants).    Anyone else like to share there experiences?

SteveF
21:15   Saturday 03 Sept 2016
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Hi SteveF,
VC55.  Lots of C. wasp activity in garden - nest in old Eucalyptus gunnii stump.  Their flight path heads straight for the ivy flowers.  Treating them with respect and keeping well out of the way,  There was a big Bombus hypnorum queen basking on the windowsill in the sunshine just before noon ; and just the occasional B. pascuorum .    One or two comfrey plants flowering again; and Michaelmas daisies.    urbanbumble

     
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Hallo Urbanbumble
Thanks for your news.  The decline in bumblebee numbers in North East Hampshire continues, especially after heavy rain yesterday and a rather cold day today but with bright sunshine.

Still a few worker B.pascuorum about today foraging on several different kinds of late summer flowers in the flower borders.  Some even collecting pollen still.  Ten days ago there were quite a lot on Himalayan balsam on the banks of the River Blackwater and smaller numbers of B.terrestris and one male B.lapidarius.

The last B.hortorum worker was seen on 24 Sept on Ceratostigma Willmottii.

There was one B.pratorum queen in the garden on 29 Sept.

There has been a B.terrestris queen searching round the base of a very old forsythia bush on 23, 24, 29 and Friday 30 Sept.  There are mouse holes under this bush.  I wondered what she was up to.

I have seen a B.hypnorum queen on 1, 7 and Friday 30 Sept.  On Friday she was feeding on nectar on cultivated scabious

On the whole common social wasps and hornets have had a poor year here.  However there have been quite a lot of wasp workers on ivy flowers in a few places.  I have been examining a lot of bushes of ivy in flower looking for Colletes hederae (Solitary Ivy bee).  C.hederae has been seen in this area in previous years.  I was rewarded at last on 28 Sept at Ashford Hangers near Petersfield.  There was a small nesting aggregation on a steep warm sunny chalk downland wildflower meadow and about 1 km away we saw about a dozen on ivy flowers.

Regards
SteveF
21:30 BST Sunday 02 Oct 2016
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Hi SteveF,
Aware of C. hederae but they haven’t been seen this far north yet. 
Did a bumble walk on the local allotment in July [10th] and saw B. pascuorum climbing right inside Himalayan Balsam flowers, which were growing alongside one of the water tanks   The B. pascuorum here in the garden today were foraging Fuchsia magellanica flowers.  Runner beans have finished now.  urbanbumble

     
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Hallo Urbanbumble
Better day here today.  Cold overnight but almost unbroken sunshine with a cool SE breeze.  A few B.pascuorum workers were foraging on the last of the summer flowers in the garden.  The bumblebees demonstrated very catholic tastes - probably by force of circumstances as there are only a few flowers of any particular kind now available.  I saw B.pascuorum workers on 13 different kinds of flower but only in ones or twos.  Borage and ceratostigma willmottii were probably the most popular.  Also a few butterflies.  One each of red admiral, comma, speckled wood and small white.
SteveF
21:10 BST Monday 03 Oct 2016
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Hallo Urbanbumble
The last couple of days have been fine here with good sunny periods but a moderate to brisk E wind.  Warm in the sunshine but cool in the wind.

On Tuesday (04 Oct) there was a Queen B.Hortorum in the garden persistently nectaring on Ceratostigma Willmottii during the afternoon, but also basking in the sun on dry leaves for ~20 minutes.  Also a Queen B.hypnorum briefly.

On Wednesday (05 Oct) there were 5+ Queen B.terrestris, 1 Queen B.hypnorum and 1 Queen B.lapidarius nectaring on a large Arbutus tree in full flower at North Warnborough.  There were 2 more Queen B.terrestris and another Queen B.hypnorum on ivy flowers nearer to Odiham.

Also Colletes hederae at 5 sites on ivy in the Odiham area, 1 hornet, 4 red admirals, 3 speckled wood, quite a lot of common social wasps and 5 Mesembrina meridiana.

Cooler and a lot cloudier here today.  Very little bumblebee and other insect activity.
SteveF
20:00 BST Thursday06 Oct 2016
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Hi SteveF,
Nice pic of the B. hortorum.  You are seeing more species than I’ve been getting here - now down to B. pascuorum only, both in my garden and on the remaining lavender at the local country park bumble border, where I do a bit of voluntary gardening.  Fine sunny weather yesterday and today, with a strong breeze.  Has no-one else had any sightings of bumbles?
urbanbumble

     
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Hi SteveF,

Bumbles not finished yet!  Had a lovely B. hypnorum queen taking advantage of the sunshine, foraging Erysimum Bowles Mauve a couple of days ago.  Bowles Mauve is a good bumble-friendly choice for the garden because it repeat flowers if it is lightly clipped back after flowering, and not allowed to go woody.  Temperatures have been cooler at night this past week.  Wasps still active.  I was at a “Food Fair” yesterday - lots of apple varieties to taste and buy [toffee apples] and colourful, stripey squashes, thanks to the earlier pollinating efforts of bumbles.  Halloween is at the end of the month - remember “pumpkins need bumbles! ”  , even those from the supermarket -  if you haven’t managed to grow your own. 
urbanbumble

 

     
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29.10.2016 , 4.30pm, - weather relatively mild & dry.  Disturbed a second B. terrestris queen today, when preparing a bed & digging a hole for planting a new crab apple tree.  [or it might have been the same queen as yesterday? , having returned overnight to almost the same spot].  Both queens were active &  put on Erisymum Bowles Mauve flowers to forage and later disappeared - assumed they flew off OK.  urbanbumble

     
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Still seeing a few bumbles around - worker pascuorum and a couple of queen terrestris on ivy in mid-Devon on the 26th Oct, a queen hypnorum basking on laurel in Worcester on the 27th Oct, and a queen terrestris in flight in Lyndhurst, New Forest, on the 5th Nov

     
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Hi Rimo,
SteveF has moved this discussion to “Bumblebee Activity in late Autumn 2016 and Winter 2016/2017”, so reply there from now on.
No more sightings sincemy last message.  Weather has gone cold, windy and wet and we’ve now has the first frost.
urbanbumble

     
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Only wasps here atm