Honey Bee Nest

Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) nest

On my walks through the wood yesterday I came across this Honey Bee nest in an old tree hollow. They were busy toing and froing, quite busy in their endeavours.

Photograph of Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) nest, taken October 2016, local wood, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D7200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

Buff-tailed Bumblebee

Bombus terrestris

Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris)

This is our largest bumblebee and is sometimes known as the ‘Large Earth Bumblebee’. It is usually the first to emerge after hibernation. The queen has a distinctive dirty white to orangey tail, and deep yellow thoracic and abdominal bands. The tongue is very short. Queen 19 to 22mm, male 14 to 16mm, worker 11 to 17mm.

Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris)

Because of its short tongue this bee has developed a special ability to reach the nectar deep within flower heads by biting a hole at the base of the corolla and then drinking through it. These bees can apparently navigate their way back to a nest from 13km (8 miles) away! Important pollinators, especially of fruit trees, raspberries and blueberries. The nests are built in a variety of locations, but usually underground and always undercover. Large nests may contain over 300 workers. The Vestal Cuckoo-bee (Bombus vestalis) is a cleptoparasitic bee which invades the nests and looks very similar. Feeds on nectar and pollen.

Emerging as early as February in the south. Found in many habitats, and a regular visitor to gardens. A common and very widespread species, not only throughout Britain but also Europe. But not in the far north, and scarce in Scotland.

Photographs of Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris), taken September 2016, rear garden , Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D7200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

Just Hanging On

Common Carder Bumblebee (Bombus pascuorum)

Photograph of Common Carder Bumblebee (Bombus pascuorum), taken September 2016, rear garden , Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D7200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

The Pea And The Bumblebee

Photograph of Broad-leaved Everlasting-pea (Lathyrus latifolius) and the Common Carder Bumblebee (Bombus pascuorum)  taken August 2016, Bournemouth, Dorset. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Nikon 70-300mm telephoto zoom lens.

The Bumblebee And The Buddleia

Although Buddleias can get a little out of hand in smaller gardens, I have always had one growing in a corner or two at the bottom of my small back garden. The flowers indeed attract numerous nectar loving insects, like this White-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lucorum), and butterflies, giving it one of its common names the ‘Butterfly-bush’.

Common Leaf-cutter Bee

Megachile centuncularis

I always enjoy these bees in my garden, and I know when they have been around for they leave behind delicately carved holes in my leaves, particularly roses. A sparsely haired black bodied bee, the female has an underbelly of dense, brushy orangish hairs. Length 10 to 12mm.

They nest in a variety of cavities, natural and man-made. The females cut out semicircular pieces from leaves with their large sharp mandibles and make sausage-shaped tubes in which they lay a single egg and place some pollen. When the eggs are hatched, the larvae will grow and be tended until ready for pupation, feeding on nectar and pollen. The adults are good pollinators.

Found in many habitats, including gardens. A widespread species in Britain, although it is more frequently recorded from the south.

Photographs taken July 2011 and June 2016, rear garden, Staffordshire.