" Welcome to the florafaunauk site , hope you enjoy the pictures and posts giving a detailed insight into the Natural History of our Country throughout the seasons and year "All that the Sun Shines on is beautiful, so long as it is Wild" John Muir "

Monday, 17 March 2014

Spring Buzz - A Year of Bumblebees

Bumblebees Through The Year

This is a short piece on the Bees and Wasps recorded at Cromwell Bottom (CB) or or more particularly their Phrenology  = timing  through the year. You can click on the links to download a PDF  Information Sheet  of some of the Bees if you would like to learn more

Bumblebees are perhaps most familiar to most of us. The full spectrum of Bees and Wasps are bewildering in their survival strategies . We have Social bees and Solitary Bees , we have Bees that parasitise other Bees ,hence the term Cuckoo Bees and Wasps that parasitise bees , if not confusing enough !!! Bees of course differ from flies in so much as they have two pairs of Wings (4) not two as in Flies (2) Diptera of course they are usually moving that fast or folded you don't see them

Link Hoverflies or Flowerflies  which are the brightly coloured flies that can be seen in Gardens and  capitalise on Bees and Wasps By mimicking them with their  bright black and yellow abdominal patterns we have over 40+ species of Hoverflies to see at CB

Syrphus 8540

To  have both and more on our reserve we need to leave our flower stands in situ and yes that includes our weed and other flowering plants. The odds against our Bees are great , overdevelopment, infestation and climate change all have made an impact on British Bees.

Identifying some of the similar 25 British  Bumblebees an be tricky , even though many are quite distinct , such as the Red Tailed Bumblebee or the Tree bumblebee. We can enjoy our Bees for what they are or if you are interested you can use the Interactive NHM Bee Identifier or print off this handy in the pocket guide PDF Guide 1   PDF guide 2

The Clay Banks and paths along the river are ideal habitats for the Burrows of Solitary Bees.

Solitary Bee Burrow 7549

At Cromwell there is a good frequency of the Honey Bee ,  hives are kept in woodland not far away

Bee Hawthorn 5090 

Anthora plumipes The hairy Footed Flower bee   generally from March to late May, but there are a few records from February, June and early July.

Bombus sylvestris
Bombus sylvestris 18462

Bombus terrestris Buff tailed Bee

Bombus terrestris 15908

Early Bumblebee - Bombus pratorum 

Bombus pratorum 25111

Bombus lapidatius Red Tailed Bee Male (Yellow Banding)

Red Tailed bee Male 39822

Red Tailed Bee 39807

Bombus vestalis Females leave hibernation during April or May. New males and females are produced in July and August.

Bombus vestalis 4443

Bombus lucorum White Tailed Bee Queens can be seen nest-searching from March onward and males can be found between July and October.

White Tailed Bee 39727

White tailed Bumblebee  Bombus lucorum Male* ( Workers are all Queens daughther s)

Bee 22052

Bombus pasuorum or the common Carder Bee Queens emerge from hibernation from March to June; workers are present from April onwards, and males and new females from July to October

Bombus pascuorum 17304
Bombus hypnorum Tree Bumblebee ( a new British Bee that has migrated from the continent first recoded in 2001)  last year 2013 was a very good year at CB for this species.Late May and early June is peak activity season for this distinctive bumblebee,

Bombus hypnorum 8975

Parasites of Bumblebees

Not any form of Bee or Wasp this is  Conops quadrifasciatus A thick headed Fly Conops quadrifasciatus is a species of fly from the genus Conops in the family Conopidae. Their larvae are endoparasites of bumble bees of the genus Bombus.


Other Interesting Relationships

There are numerous other relationships which we have yet to understand and have only recently touched upon Osmia bicolour for example builds an nest in a snail shell. Likewise the Oil beetle is a parasite of bees living in nests and completing its life cycle . even our Hoverfly larvae find their way into the nests of Social bees feeding on the detritus . The importance of Bees and Wasps is immensely   important to agriculture and pollenation of our crops that keep us fed 

Solitary Bees

Solitary Bees are also abundant at CB at as usual under recorded or un-noticed . the Genus Andrena is always around with over 200 species in that classification they can be tricky but some prominent faces stick out

Nomada flava  Group

Nomada 17593



Andrena haemorhoea The Early Mining Bee

Andrena haemorrhoa 16113

Andrena cinerarea Grey Mining Bee which is parasitised by one of the Nomada and loves stony quarry areas semi covered with soil and characteristic white moustache

Andrena cineraria 19197

Andrena fulva The Tawny Mining Bee

Andrena  Fulva 00794

Andrena nigroaenea 4335 

There are more sheets here if you are interested

Gardening For Bees - Spring
Gardening For Bees -Summer
Gardening For Autumn
Bee hotels


Our Wasps include Tree Wasp Dolichovespula sylvestris

Median  Wasp Dolichovespula median

Vespula vulgaris Common Wasp

Identifying Social Wasps

Vespula rufa Red Wasp

Common Wasp Vespula vulgaris - Good Face
views in assist in Identification

Wasp 28702xx

Wasp 28703

Patterning Can Vary !!

Wasp 0183

Whilst most Bees and Wasps will go about their business undisturbed please be aware that these are wild creatures and possess the ability to sting and sting in number if provoked . Please respect there wild space and observe passively and without disturbing nests

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