Tuesday, 3 June 2014

The Bee's Knees

I went out the other afternoon to look for nests but ended up spending most of the time watching bumblebees and trying to photograph them. The area I went to is a former area of derelict land that nature has reclaimed for itself along with a few garden escapes. It has a wonderful display of Lupins (Lupinus polyphyllus) and they were buzzing with a variety of bees. They may not be native plants but they are not invasive like Himalayan Balsam and they look better too. If you want to help bees and attract them into your garden it is well worth planting a few Lupins.

Lupins (Lupinus polyphyllus) growing wild and looking good in a large drift. If I had a very, very large garden this is the sort of herbaceous border I would want.
There were at least 3 or 4 species of bumblebee taking advantage of the Lupins but I only managed to get good photos of 2 species. The most numerous species was the Red-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius). This is one of the more common species in the UK and is easily recognised by its orange-red tail.

Coming in to land, tongue at the ready.

The orange-red lump on the bee's back leg is pollen that the bee has packed into its pollen basket or corbicula. This is part of the tibia on the hind leg and is used by the bee to transport the pollen it has collected back to the nest.
The other species I manged to get some decent shots of I identified as the Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum). There only appeared to be one or two of these bees and it isn't a species I can say I have really noticed before. Bumblebees are something that we tend to take for granted but they are declining like much of our wildlife so I am going to try and see how many species I can record over the summer. For more information on our bumblebees and bee conservation click here.

Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum).

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