Cuckoo bumblebees

Cuckoo bumblebees, as their name suggests, take over the nests of ‘true’ bumblebees. The Cuckoo queen enter their host nest, and kill the existing queen. The remaining workers then rear the cuckoo’s young. The cuckoo bumbles, of which there are six species in Ireland, can be difficult enough to distinguish from true bumbles. However one distinguishing feature is the lack of a pollen basket on the back leg of the bee.

The photo below is of a forest cuckoo bumblebee.  They appear to be having a good year with sightings in Mayo and Clare in the last couple of weeks

They are probably one of the easier species to identify with their large white tails and their single yellow band.

 

Foest Cuckoo bumbebee

Forest Cuckoo bumblebee Bombus sylvestris

Note: no pollen basket on bee on left but Garden bumblebee on right (a true bumblebee) the pollen basket is obvious.

 

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20 thoughts on “Cuckoo bumblebees

    1. Murtagh's Meadow Post author

      No not at all. They say if there are cuckoo bees around it means that the host species is doing well in an area as it’s able to support the cuckoo bumbles too. It just part of the web of life – and while we may not like the idea we should perhaps admire the cuckoo bumbles much as we do the cuckoo bird!

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