Bombus (Psithyrus) barbutellus-St Davids

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.

Flight period
Over-wintered females can be found from late April onwards, males and new females in July to September.

Pollen collected
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.

Nesting biology
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.

Flowers visited
Visits are made to a wide variety of flowers.

Birds and the bees


While in Scotland in spring I walked down a lane which was littered with queen bumblebees with their abdomens hollowed out. Having done some research on this I spoke to a RSPB guy who said its Great Tits they target the early queen bees as they are full of protein with their fertilised eggs.

Bombus Jonellus -Heath Bumblebee -Scarce (Berneray & North Uist)


Sadly the only photo I have of this type of bee, Taken on a very windy day on Berneray.

Often found in heath and moorland. More frequent in Scotland, in southern England. It is found in gardens and calcareous grassland as well as heathland. The queen and workers look the same, the male has more yellow.

Body lengths, queen 16 mm, worker 12mm, male 12mm.