Tree Bumblebee

Bombus hypnorum

Tree Bumblebee Bombus hypnorum

Now this is one bumblebee I have seen a definate increase in visits to my garden in recent years.

The Tree Bumblebee is easily recognised by its gingery-brown thorax and black abdomen with a white tail. This is a short-tongued bumblebee. The queen may have some white hairs on her abdomen, and the male has white hairs on his face. Similar to the Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum), except the Tree Bumblebee has a distinct white tail. Size Queen 18mm, worker 14mm, male 16mm.

Tree Bumblebee Bombus hypnorum

In its natural setting it nests in hollows of trees, but here it has taken to gardens, and particularly tit boxes.

Seen early in the year from February until July. Found in woodland, roadside verges, scrubby grasslands, parks and allotments. Often seen visiting fruit bearing plants, tree and shrubs, which make them important pollinators.

A relative newcomer to the British Isles, it was first recorded in Hampshire, England in 2001 and has steadily increased in numbers pushing northwards fringing the borders of Scotland. They have also spread rapidly eastwards, but have been slow in the west, but are now in South Wales. The bumblebee has the potential to spread throughout the whole country without any adverse affect on other species.

June 2014, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2014. Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

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