Karen Francis's picture

Male bee

Observed: 8th July 2013 By: Karen FrancisKaren Francis’s reputation in Invertebrates

This bee was sitting on the mesh covering a vegetable planter in my garden. It didn't move whilst I photographed it. Although you can't see this detail from the photo, the tail was an orange colour, though sparse. The facial hair appears to be black. I can't find a description to match this bee as early bees are said to have yellow facial hair. The creature was about half and inch in length. Any ideas please?

Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Early Nesting Bumblebee (Bombus (Pyrobombus) pratorum) interacts


Ardea's picture

Bumble ID


Your bumble is a female, clear pollen baskets on hind legs, and twelve segments in the antennae. Only males of pratorium have yellow facial hair, but we know she's a girl.

The photos a bit dar but her wings look in good shape no tears or ships which would make her fresh. Sadly she seems to have lost all the hairs on her backside which is likely to be causing the ID problems - for me too. An educated guess based on the yellow bands and jiz would be a Queen Early Bumblebee B pratorum.

grant burleigh's picture


The question of pollen baskets and female cuckoo bumblebees is perhaps of wider interest: i.e. did these bees evolve from normal bumblebees and completely lose their pollen basket in the process? Or did they keep a non-functional vestige of it? Or did they evolve as a completely separate line with no pollen basket?

eucera's picture

ID Comment

I agree with Ardea... Queen B. pratorum

Chairman BWARS

Mydaea's picture

There is nothing in this

There is nothing in this picture that would suggest bohemicus. It is B. pratorum without a shadow of doubt.

Karen Francis's picture

Thank you

Dear All... thank you so much for your observations and for identifying this bee. I had attended a 'bumblebee walk' the previous day but we hadn't seen this species. Unlike most of the other bees flying around my garden, this lady was very still; I placed my hand behind her to create a background but she didn't flinch. Perhaps she had just emerged? Thank you again!

Regards, Karen