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.
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.
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.
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.
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.