Tag Archives: bumblebee

Awakening

Bumblebee queens are waking up for the spring. Everything is late this year, as it had been a cold spring, so it’s good to see the bees emerging.

Early bumblebee

Early bumblebee

You will notice this lady has some passengers. These phoretic mites (Parasitellus) do not harm the bee. They will fall off when she sets up a nest and will act as nest cleaners.

Via this week’s photo challenge – Awakening

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Yellow – Monthly Meet Up Photo Challenge

Yellow is this month’s photo challenge from Wild Daffodil. At this time of year dandelions should be everywhere, but the cold spring means they are only just coming. Dandelions are a great source of pollen for bumblebees. So if your lawn is awash with yellow, think twice before you cut it.

Dandelions

Dandelions

Allow the dandelions to flower and you will be providing bees with an important food source.

Important EU Public Consultation on Pollinators

Following on from my bumblebee post yesterday, here is an important pubic consultation on an EU Pollinator Initiative. The consultation is open to anyone living in Europe, you don’t have to be an expert. If you have any interest in pollinators I urge you to fill out the questionnaire. It only takes about ten minutes, and you have till the 5th of April to complete.

The survey can be accessed by clicking here.

And more information bout the initiative can be found here.

Bumblebee

Bumblebee

 

 

Bumblebee Sunday

The bumblebees have been around for about a week. But it was only yesterday that I saw them feeding on the willow tree in the garden. Willow is an important early pollen source for bumblebee queens coming out of hibernation. This is what they are after.

Yellow willow pollen

Yellow willow pollen

There appears to two bees, the White-tailed bumble and the Buff tailed bumble. These are usually the first bees we see here in the west.

 

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White tailed queen bumblebee

Drone Bumblebees

Male bumblebees, also know as drones as pretty transient. They don’t hang about for long. Once they leave their nest they fly around for a few weeks looking for females to mate with and then, job done, they just die off. It is the new females queens that will hibernate and start a new colony the following spring.

This year, drones of both Early Bumblebees and Heath Bumblebees are appearing earlier than expected here in Ireland. No one is quite sure why yet. It may be due to the strange weather we are experiencing, or it could be that these species are having two generations a year.

Many drone bees can be distinguished by the yellow hairs on their faces. The drone will often fly further than the females. So while this is the second year I have seen Heath bumble drones in my garden, I have yet to see a female Heath.

Heath Bumblebee

Heath Bumblebee (Bombus jonellus)

And I near forgot to add solstice greetings!!

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.

 

Wildlife Wednesday

Moorehall is one of our favourite places to go for a walk, here in County Mayo. Here are some of yesterday’s little wildlife highlights. The Holly Blue butterfly is small and delicate. The inside wings are the blue of an evening sky in summer, so seeing them flying along is like watching fragments of sky flutter about.