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The Tree Bumblebee - B. hypnorum- why did they migrate or did they?


Total Posts: 20

Joined 2012-06-06


Hi all,

I realise we already have a topic on the new arrival. I wanted this one to be more specific. I am fascinated by its migration. I believe it was first seen in the New Forest in 2001.

So how long had it been here in the UK before that?

Why did these bees fly over the channel, a huge expanse of water where their is no food whatsoever to find on such a perilous journey to the UK?

Was there not enough forage, nest places, space or whatever in France?

Is France and the European coastline and countryside so saturated with them that they were forced to risk death to come here? I doubt it….... Why did they come?

Did they come from France the shortest route?

Did a few fly across one year? More the next year?

Did many fly across in just one year?

Are they still flying across the channel?

Do other bumblebee species follow the same route?

If not, why not? I find it hard to believe that just one species would do this and do it collectively.

How many would have perished?

Were they introduced?

How far can they travel?

Do they have the physical capabilities to fly off across the channel?

That should get you thinking!

Cheers George Pilkington



Total Posts: 6

Joined 2012-05-26


Another question might be:  If they’ve always been common in mainland Europe why didn’t they fly across the channel sooner? Maybe they hitched a ride through the Channel Tunnel as I’ve heard reports of bees and other insects being found on windscreens etc after coming out the tunnel.  Or maybe they hitched ride on a ship to Southampton?

There’s one thing for sure, it’s unlikely they flew all the way to Iceland, which is another place they turned up relatively recently, and they’re doing quite well up there as far as I’m aware.

Other species have been introduced accidentally by man, such as the hornet Vespa velutina, which was introduced to France in pottery from china.


Total Posts: 20

Joined 2012-06-06


The tunnel could well be one answer hitching a ride on a train as this was opened mid 1990’s and perhaps thats how they came over. Unless they were introduced and you say they are now in Iceland…..no tunnel to Iceland yet! It was found there in 2010….

interesting links here…. http://www.bwars.com/index.php?q=bee/apidae/bombus-hypnorum


So did it fly all the way to Iceland, is it capable of that? I doubt it and think it may have been introduced purposely or accidentally…..if that is the case were these specimens from the UK?

Are any in the islands off the Scottish coastline….if they managed to get toIceland which is much further way

What do others think?

George Pilkington