Buff Tailed Bumblebee

Bzzzz Feed #4: Buff tailed bumblebee, AKA Bombus terrestris

One of the UK’s common bees and very similar looking to a white-tailed bumblebee… which means even having taken great care to make sure all the bees on this page are buff tailed bumblebees we’re still anxious there may be a white tailed bumblebee lurking among them.

This bumblebee is in the top 5 for bees with the longest tongues, which affects the flowers it loves to feed from. A social bee like all bumblebees it nests underground in colonies of several hundred bees.

When could you see one?

Generally these common bumblebees are spottable from March through to August, however this species is increasingly nesting in the winter especially in urban settings so you may see them in October or November

Where could you see one in the UK?

These guys are really common… in fact they’re on of the most common UK bees and you’re likely to spot them anywhere up and down the UK.

Find out more about the buff tailed bumblebee at this bee’s BWARS page HERE

Orange Vented Mason Bee

Bzzzz Feed #3: Orange vented mason bee, AKA Osmis leaiana

Okay, so this solitary bee completely fooled us…. we saw bits of leaf debris in nesting tubes and the bee’s striking ‘rear end’ and thought we had leafcutter bees nesting. This appears to be a common mistake with orange vented mason bees. However they do like a leaf!

Rather than delicately cutting discs from leaves and then using a patchwork of cut leaves to create a cell for their eggs, these bees mash up leaves into a pulp before moulding them into the walls of the cell where they lay their eggs. They then cap the nesting tube with another wall of this pesto like substance.

When could you see one?

They’re out and about from early May until late August

Where could you see one in the UK?

This is a south of England bee, so keep half an eye on your bee hotels… though they move quickly and so you might have to loiter by your bee hotel to catch a glimpse.

Find our more about the orange vented mason bee at this bee’s BWARS page HERE

Pantaloon Bees

Bzzzz Feed #2: Pantaloon Bees, AKA Dasypoda Hirtipes

The bee spotting life is full of surprises… took a different route home this lunchtime and stumbled across our first pantaloon bee.

This flamboyant solitary bee isn’t all that common in the UK and mostly hangs out in the south east of England… so we’re in a prime spot here on the east coast.

This species focus their foraging attention largely on one family of plants in this country, the Asteraceae family, and the female of the species is definitely the one that wears the trousers…. though these legs aren’t all about pollen carrying.

These spectacular legs are also an important tool in making its nest. The pantaloon bee builds its nests in sandy ground, backing out of its nesting tunnels when excavating them to remove larger volumes of sand in one ingenious move. There are some fabulous videos on YouTube of this activity.

Enjoy your exploring bee saviour citizens… you never know what’s around the next corner 🐝💚🌍

Where could you see a pantaloon bee?

Largely found in the southeast of England, especially coastal locations. There have also been some recorded populations in the south west and west coast of Wales.

When might you see one?

Keep an eye open in June, July and August, especially on yellow flowers plants in the aster family.

Find our more about the pantaloon bee at this bee’s BWARS page HERE

Honeybee

Bzzzz Feed #1: Honeybee

So apparently the alarm pheromone of a honeybee smells like bananas!

Despite it only being March my summer pass time of sneaking up on bees while they’re taking some ‘time out’ is in full swing. I’m guessing this doesn’t alarms them… I’ve certainly never smelt a banana like smell while doing it.

Essentially pheromones are chemicals released by bees, insects and some mammals to influence the behaviour of other members of their species…. curious. It’s not the only unusual way that bees communicate either… dance is also a part of how they signal things to other bees… apparently a waggle dance is used to communicate about suitable flower destinations sites

Where could you see a honeybee?

Literally anywhere… even central London has a huge number of rooftop bee keepers and so they’re common across the United Kingdom and beyond.

When might you see one?

Honeybees won’t fly when the weather is colder than 14 degrees centigrade (57 degrees fahrenheit). This means you may see one on a warm winter day though they’re most commonly from March to September.

Banded White-Tailed Bumblebee

It is windy here in Norwich today. Initially we though nothing of this banded white-tailed bumblebee looking like it’s rock climbing up this plant… until it dawned on us that life must be treacherous as a bumblebee in high winds. This thought got us searching for any wisdom about bumblebees in windy flight online.

Joyfully we stumbled across one piece of research that found when bumblebees land on flowers in high winds they don’t seem to decelerate and as a result crash land onto the flower at potentially damaging speeds… no wonder this bee prefers to keep its feet on the ground… or should that be keep its feet on the plant. Rock climbing beats flying in these conditions.

We feel like we’ve been working hard over this last week to keep our feet on the ground too. It’s been a roller-coaster year so far and now we’re at the bit where we’re knuckling down, chasing suppliers, building boxes, making bee cards and making sure we don’t get distracted by flights of fancy…. and don’t get blown off course.