Bumbles are Back!

I’ve been on the look out for bumblebees and today they are back! Three days earlier than last year. After a wet, cold January and February here in the west of Ireland, we are finally getting some dry weather, and today the temperatures reached about 14 degrees, in beautiful spring sunshine.

Most of the bumblebees I saw today were feeding on the willow in the garden (it’s a cultivated form which produces pollen a bit earlier than some of our native willows). The catkins are full of pollen.

Willow pollen

Willow pollen

Problem was the bees seemed to prefer the higher branches so it was next to impossible to get a good photograph. They appeared to be mostly Buff tailed queens (Bombus terrestris) though I think there may have been an Early bumblebee queen (Bombus pratorum) too – but it was too high and too fast for me to get a proper identification.

The droneflies were there too and where a bit more accommodating.

Drone fly

Drone fly

However, I did find a bumble feeding on the daffodils further down the garden and it posed perfectly.

Bumble on daffodil

Bumble on daffodil

I’m a little puzzled by this one as the yellow banding is usually the same colour in freshly emerged queens but this one has two different colours. Still a lovely bee! I am delighted the bees are back. I really feel spring is underway now.

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29 thoughts on “Bumbles are Back!

  1. Eliza Waters

    Quite a fat little bumble! I’m rooting some pussy willow branches, so hopefully, in future years, I’ll have more to offer our bees. I have a Japanese variegated willow that is simply covered with pollinators when it blooms. It really needs cutting back, but I always think of how many bees are waiting for it to bloom and hold off pruning until it is too late and it leafs out. oh well!

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    1. Murtagh's Meadow Post author

      Same here Eliza – great thing about willow is they are so easy to grow. Will stick a couple of branches from this particular tree further down the garden.

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      1. Murtagh's Meadow Post author

        We had great tine – but only reading this now on our return – our school won first prize so everyone delight!

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  2. Frogend_dweller

    Having bumblebees around is so cheering. They are like the teddy bears of the insect world. We’ve seen a couple of buff-tailed and one red-tailed bumbles, but no earlies yet. Those are rather glorious photos!

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    1. Murtagh's Meadow Post author

      Thank you:) Strangely I have only ever seen one red-tailed in our garden but I know they occur about 40 miles away on the coast.

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