Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Bees Knees

The Tree-house, for so long a feature of the Hidden House garden is no more. Sadly it had become more dangerous over the last couple of years, because of a design oversight. It was integrally fixed to the tree and it's main trunk, with no allowance for the tree growing. As can be seen in the picture above, the main supports were already becoming distorted in 2006. Even then to rectify the problem would have meant a complete rebuild, a task beyond my skills and with the grandchildren not here that often it seemed a that the best thing to do was to take it down. Even this was a major task.

As I was moving the enormous amount of wood that I had accumulated under the tree, I became aware of being surrounded by a large number of Bumble Bees. The were gathering around some debris and I soon realised I had accidentally covered the entrance hole to their nest.
Once uncovered it was a hive of activity (ha ha). I always have some difficulty with Bumble-bee identification, even with the aid of Mike Edward's and Martin Jenner's lovely little field guide. One of the troubles here was that they were strictly on an in and out mission, with no settling down near by, allowing a close look.
My camera kept focusing on this little bug, which I think is an aphid of some sort. As their are more than 400 species of aphid, I'll leave it "generic" at the moment.

I thought at first the Bumblebees were Buff-tails (Bombus terristris) but I think that they may in fact be B. hortorum ( sometime called Garden Bumblebee).

The returning bees were heavily laden with pollen, presumably to feed the young growing in the nest. Most species of Bumblebees likely to be encountered in the garden nest underground, although birds nests and bird boxes may be used.

This week there's been a lot written about the role that Bumblebees have in pollinating crops, so it is good to know these is at least one colony in the garden. I suspect there maybe be at least two others. There is a stream of Bumblebees going between the slats on the decking by our barbecue and I've seen several going into the concrete nest box at the end of the garden.


Susan said...

You were right the first time with B. terrestris. B. hortorum has two yellow stripes on the thorax - one in front of the wings and one behind. The one behind merges with the yellow on the abdomen.

Tony Morris said...

Thanks Susan,