Tuesday 21 September 2010

The late bumblebee

A sign that the bee season is coming to an end when the only bumblebees visiting the lavender are carder bees Bombus pascuorum. There might be still a few queens of the other species around, but this handsome ginger carder bee is still in peak season, making use of the late summer flowers around. This bumblebee has a relatively large tongue (average of 8.5 mm) which allows it to use deep flowers, even foxgloves (above, a worker in mid June leaving a foxgloves against the dark background of my rubbish bin) and Iris, as food sources.
Other than in Lavender, at this time of year, they can be seen foraging on Verbena bonairensisSedum spectabile, Agapanthus, Sunflowers, Caryopteris, Cytisus, Buddleia, Nasturtium, hardy Geranium, Salvia, Honeysuckle and Purple toadflax.
Males (above) and queens appear at the end of the summer and the species can be seen actively flying until the first frosts. They nest on the ground and actively comb moss to insulate their nests. For a little video of a B. pascuorum nest click here.

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