This bee was found dead in my greenhouse.
You can clearly see the buff tail that gives this bee its common name of Buff tailed bumblebee. You can also see its short face which is as long as it is wide. Bee faces come in three sizes.
This bumblebee was once very common in
southern and central England but it has been lost
from over 80% of its known localities over the last
100 years. In the UK it is now mainly found in the
Fens, East Midlands and Cambridgeshire.
Reasons for decline
Agricultural intensifi cation as well as forestry and
development have all resulted in the loss of large
areas of fl ower-rich grassland, wet grassland
and ditches, which has been the main cause of
decline in this species. There were once large
areas of fl ower-rich unimproved habitat,
however these habitats are now small
and are still being lost.
The Large garden bumblebee is
mostly associated with fl ower-rich
meadow land and wetlands. It has survived
successfully in the fens and river valleys of
eastern England; however it also uses
intensively farmed areas with fl ower-rich
ditches, fi eld margins or organic clover leys. It is
vital that pollen and nectar sources are available
within foraging distance of nests from April to
September. It needs disused burrows of small
mammals for nesting sites; these are also believed
to be where the queens hibernate over winter.
Dark green = recent records (after 1980)
Light green = historic records (before 1980)
Large garden bumblebee habitat should be rich in red clover
Buglife – The Invertebrate Conservation Trust
One of the socially parasitic bumblebees formerly placed in the genus Psithyrus, which is now regarded as a sub-genus of Bombus. It is known to parasitise the nests of Bombus terrestris. The general distribution is more southerly than that of its look-alike, Bombus bohemicus, which matches the situation in the known hosts of these two species (B. lucorum is the host of B. bohemicus). This may be a species which is showing signs of distribution change due to climatic change. In view of the northward extension of distribution of several bumblebee species it will be interesting to see whether B. vestalis has also extended its range northwards. Both males and females can be suspected by the narrow yellow patches at the base of the white tail. These patches are generally more intense and extensive than in B. bohemicus, however, microscopic examination will be required to reliably separate the two species…BWARS
This species is distributed widely throughout most of the area covered by this Atlas, but is rarely common. It is widespread in Europe; middle and northern latitudes of Asia, and eastwards to Mongolia (Løken 1973).
Status (in Britain only)
This bee is not regarded as being scarce or threatened.
This cuckoo-bee occurs in a wide variety of habitats.
Over-wintered females can be found from late April onwards, males and new females in July to September.
As this bee is parasitic it does not collect pollen, although females eat pollen in order to develop their ovaries. Foraging for pollen for the nest is carried out by the host workers.
During spring the over-wintered, fertilised female B. barbutellus searches for a small nest of the host bumblebee, B. hortorum. It enters the nest and eventually dominates, or kills the host queen. The parasite female then lays eggs which will develop into either males or females of B. barbutellus. All foraging and nest duties are carried out by the host workers. It is likely that this species will also attack B. ruderatus.
Visits are made to a wide variety of flowers.