The early bumblebee

The early or early-nesting bumblebee, Bombus pratorum is is a small bumblebee found throughout most of Europe and parts of Asia. It is very common in the UK and emerges to begin its colony cycle very early in the year, often as soon as February which is earlier than most other species, hence its common name. There is some evidence that the early bumblebee may be able to go through two colony cycles in a year. Like other bumblebees, the early bumblebee lives in colonies with a queen and workers. Bombus pratorum queens seem to exhibit aggressive behavior rather than pheromones to maintain dominance over the workers.

The early bumblebee Photo credit: Ivar Leidus

Bumblebee identification

Bumblebee Identification apps available

For those interested in learning more about bumblebees, we highly recommend the following apps: Bumblebees of Britain & Ireland - NatureGuides Ltd., Blooms for Bees - Natural Apptitude, Great British Bee Count - Friends of the Earth Ltd. Bumblebee Apps

The garden bumblebee

The garden bumblebee Photo credit: Ivar Leidus

The garden bumblebee or small garden bumblebee Bombus hortorum is distinguished from other bumblebees by its very long tongue which is used for feeding on pollen in deep-flowered plants. It is believed that they have a remarkable visual memory capacity, which helps them in navigating the territory close to their habitat and seeking out food sources. Due to its long tongue, this bumblebee mainly visits flowers with deep corollae, such as deadnettles, ground ivy, vetches, clovers, comfrey, foxglove, and thistles.

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