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In the composite image, this bumblebee is placed above my recent image of another bumblebee on Ground Elder close by*. The previous bee has a pronounced abdominal yellow band and I identified it as B. terrestris – (which happens to be a host of B. vestalis).
* Bumblebee feeding on Ground Elder inflorescence (to iSpot 12th June 2013 ).
Yes, I'd go for vestalis, with the pale yellow band at the junction of the white/black on abdomen . But what I don't get is your comment about a terrestris. Is this the one dated 12/06/2013? Look at the hind tibia and you'll see that it is evenly hairy - one of the pointers for cuckoo bee. It also has the pale yellow band, so looks like vestalis too.
Jamie from Briantspuddle
Thanks for the comment. I had hitherto assumed that as the yellow band across the abdomen was complete in the 12/06/2013 bee that this wasn't vestalis. I'll try and improve my knowledge of these details.
Lack of a pollen basket on the hind leg could mean that one is looking at a male or a cuckoo bumblebee. My understanding is that males of (non-cuckoo) bumblebees do not appear until around August, so this argues that the bee of 12/06 was indeed a cuckoo bee. I have changed the proposed ID accordingly.
Yes, haven't seen any male terrestris or lucorum yet, only pratorum so far.
Yes, I'm seeing a lot of pratorum and from past experience will expect it to include males. My pratorum feeds in a sunny bank of bramble flowers and moves around very actively. This cuckoo bee (on shaded flowers) was very slow moving; I have wondered (tentatively) in the past if B. vestalis tends to be a bit somnolent. This is to get somewhat teleological, but if you have finished battling with a B. terrestris queen and then have no larvae to feed, do you need to fly around as actively as workers in order to harvest pollen and nectar?
I've been trying to get the hang of bumble bee and cuckoo bee id. Not easy! The beewatch site seems a good place to practise though. http://homepages.abdn.ac.uk/wpn003/beewatch
Hope that link works.
Thanks for that link
Lat/Lng: 51.4337, -2.7624
OS grid ref: ST470707