Cuckoo bumblebee Bombus rupestris
Queen Bombus lapidarius, its host.Cuckoo bumblebees have often similar colour patterns to their hosts, and this type of mimicry could help them enter a nest. As an example, see above the cuckoo Bombus rupestris and its host Bombus lapidarius. But, given the high levels of aggression involved when conspecific worker intruders try and enter a nest, how do cuckoo females manage to be accepted into the hosts nest? They have another, more recently discovered form of mimicry: chemical weapons. Research by Stephen Martin and collaborators investigated the surface chemicals of 14 bumblebee species, including 5 cuckoos, from the U.K. and Sweden.
All bumblebee photos taken today.
Küpper, G. & Schwammberger, K. (1995). Social parasitism in bumble bees (Hymenoptera, Apidae): observations of Psithyrus sylvestris in Bombus pratorum nests Apidologie, 26 (3), 245-254 DOI: 10.1051/apido:19950306
Martin, S., Carruthers, J., Williams, P. & Drijfhout, F. (2010). Host Specific Social Parasites (Psithyrus) Indicate Chemical Recognition System in Bumblebees Journal of Chemical Ecology, 36 (8), 855-863 DOI: 10.1007/s10886-010-9805-3