Wednesday, 25 February 2009
BWARS (Bees Wasps and Ants Recording Society) site indicated that, instead of overwintering queens, there are now overwintering colonies -mainly of the Buff-tailed, Bombus terrestris but also Bombus pratorum, so that workers can be seen foraging in the winter. As far as I know this has not happened in Northern England yet, so the first bumblebees of the year are sleepy-looking queens in search of nectar and a nesting site. It was sunny and quite warm in the morning, so this bumblebee was awaken and came across this patch of flowers. I guess in the countryside must be quite tricky to find nectar this time of year, with gorse, snowdrops, lesser celandines and few other plants in bloom. Cities and their parks and gardens have much more in offer, rosemary, Mahonia, heathers, Hebe and many other mid-winter flowering plants, and I wonder if this - combined with milder winters - has something to do with this change in reproductive strategies. It would be interesting to test this comparing the strategies of countryside versus urban bumblebees.