News from Jesmond Community Wildlife Garden
(we are a member of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust)
Below is some interesting information about the first Bumblebees of the season , provided by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust :
Bumblebee of the month – Buff-tailed Bumblebee
We have chosen the Buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) because queens of this species are usually the first to emerge from hibernation in the UK, normally about March. Buff-tail queens are huge – about 3cm long and quite fat in appearance. You’ll often find them whizzing by overhead, as they can fly long distances to find nest sites – queens have been found on lightships 30km offshore. When they’re looking for nest sites, you’ll see them flying in a zigzag fashion close to the ground, investigating little holes and really looking like they are searching for something. That’s because they are!
To identify this species, we need to look at the yellow bands and the colour of the tail. The queen has two thick, dark yellow bands on her body – one near the head, the other near her middle. The tail is buff, but is sometimes creamy, or almost brown. When you see this bee (or any other), have a look at her hind legs. If you can see a large clump of pollen on it, that means she has founded a nest, and is collecting food to store for her offspring, which won’t appear from the nest until another month or so. The nest will only be around for 3-4 months, by which time new queens and drones will have hatched and flown away. The new queens will hibernate until next spring.
For more help in identifying bumblebees, visit the website www.bumblebeeconservation.org