BeeWalk

I do BeeWalk, a survey for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust involving a planned walk each month round a circuit, identifying and recording bumblebees. I thought I’d left it too late yesterday evening, but it was such a beautiful day, the hottest early May Bank Holiday on record, that I walked my route around 6pm, starting in Gore Lane.

The first part of the walk takes you past a hedgerow with gorse, facing south and is often the best spot. Tonight I heard a fairly high pitched bee in there, suggesting that it was something smaller than the B terrestris that has been all I’ve seen so far this year on this route. Sure enough, there were two small bumblebees nectaring in the gorse. At first sight I thought they were B hortorum – garden bumblebee – because of the twin yellow stripes and white tail.

 

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However, the size seemed too small, not much bigger than 10mm or so, and the bands were not quite lemony yellow enough. I managed to pot one up and used the Slo-Mo feature on my iphone to get a slow motion video, which you can see below.

Note the face. It’s relatively short, not the very long face of hortorum and so I’m confident that this is B. jonellus – Heath Bumblebee. [Confirmation, via those more knowledgeable on Twitter later the same day, has reassured me!]

This is a good find as jonellus is not common everywhere, though we seem to do quite well for them in Exmouth. Earlier this year I found a queen struggling to survive in our garden and the post I did then shows the difference in face length. It’s a beautiful little bee, quite fluffy (longer-haired than hortorum) and compact and its clearly been working hard as the pollen baskets are overladen with pollen, mixed with nectar and squashed into orange-yellow balls to take back to the nest.

Let’s hope that these workers help to make that nest a success so that we have more of these lovely insects pollinating all our plants for us. With this in mind, I was delighted to see that the EU has recently banned the use of neonicotinoid pesticides; a significant step in helping bees and other pollinating insects. More jonellus would be great in my opinion.

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exeprattler

Exmouth resident; keen, slightly naive, birder; moth novice.

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