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.

Early Bumblebee

One of the first wild bees we’ll be spotting in the new year will be the Early Bumblebee… like this one here that we filmed last May.

Early Bumblebees are common here in the UK and across Europe. It’s also fair to say they are more comfortable in colder temperatures than most… being resident in places from the Mediterranean to the Arctic… they are apparently even occasionally sighted on Siberia.

Like many bumblebees and solitary bees the males emerge first in the spring and curiously when they’re ready to mate head to a spot and produce a chemical to attract the queen to their location. The use of chemicals and pheromones to communicate is common among bees though the queen in an Early Bumblebee nest doesn’t use pheromones to keep order within the colony.

Buffish Mining Bee

Friday Friday… and we’re finding new bee spotting spots in Norwich and having lots of conversations about biodiversity today. Secretly our hope is that once you’ve fallen in love with bees your heart will be opened to how important all our pollinators are and how important the habitats are where they can thrive.

So armed with our Field Guide we’ve been spotting bees we don’t normally see as well as other curious pollinators. This image is of a kind of Mining Bee we reckon… our guess is a Buffish Mining Bee and it is tiny! The male is 8-10mm long.

Common Carder Bee

As the weather feels more autumnal our heads are full of questions of how to plant fresh seeds of bee curiosity in our community. Our plan for the winter months is to develop a whole bunch of things that I guess could be described as ‘educational resources’ though we’re not sure that’s quite the right phrase.

What we’re really creating are beautiful things to inspire some bee shaped discovery and wonder… and a big part of this process has been working closely with the wonderful Rich Horne to design a fresh new illustrated way to represent the differences between the 250 bee species in the UK.

Bees live extraordinary lives… and starting to identify different UK bees and appreciate the very different lives that UK bees live is quite a magical thing to grasp.

So to kick things off… here is a set of recent Common Carder Bee photos alongside a draft attempt at an illustration to help identify it. Common Carder Bees are one of those bees that hang around well into the autumn and so it’s one you’re likely to spot in October.

Common Carder Bee illustration by Rich Horne

We still have a lot of work to do on a complete set of bee identification illustrations to get all you wonderful folk excited and equipped to go out and spot different bee species… stay tuned as this important piece of work takes shape. A big thank is due to Rich Horne for his hard work and to everyone who supported our crowdfunding campaign who made this all possible.

We are a not-for-profit community co-op that uses any surplus from sales to fund education, workshops, campaigns, citizen science projects and shareable resources… so everytime anyone buys something from us it supports our work. We have big plans taking shape for 2020 and we’re going to enjoy telling you all about them over the next few months.


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