Posted by: Ross Gardner | June 15, 2016

The bees have it

Bumblebees have a habit of subtly capturing the mood of a moment.  I have seen this before.  I give a chapter of my new book over to the doings of bumblebees and write about how I have found them to reflect in their own behaviour the ebb and flow of the variables within their environment – the comings and goings of the plants who offerings they feed on; the quirks of the climate; the other creatures they share their space with.  They are fascinating creatures with much to tell.

In this instance, it was about 8 a.m. and a sunny morning after a previous day of near enough incessant rain.  Where I work there is a small but dense stand of Viper’s Bugloss with their tall spikes proudly in full bloom.  The mass of blue flowers were alive with bumblebees.  Within a few minutes I had found 7 species, within an area of barely 20 square metres.   There were many avidly toiling workers of Buff-tailed (Bombus terrestris), White-tails (B. lucorum) and the tiny Early Bumblebee (B. pratorum).  There were fewer Red-tails (B. lapidarius), Tree Bumblebee (B. hypnorum) and Common Carder Bee (B. pascuorum).  Pick of the bunch was perhaps the two Brown-banded Carder Bee (B. humilis) queens busy about the blooms.  This last is a very scarce bee in the UK.  Workers can hard to tell about from those of  the often abundant Common Carder Bee, but the queens, with practise, are rather easier to recognise.

There were dozens of bees at work, foraging with an eagerness to suggest a desire to make up for the wasted day before with these first, fresh hours of the returning sunshine.

Brown-banded Carder Bee (Bombus humils) - not, in this picture, on Viper's Bugloss, but feeding from Meadow Vetchling instead.  Ross Gardner 2011.

Brown-banded Carder Bee (Bombus humils) – not, in this picture, on Viper’s Bugloss, but feeding from Meadow Vetchling instead. Ross Gardner 2011.

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Responses

  1. I shall be looking out for these!


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