This is the fourth bee I hope to have identified although by trying to identify bumble bees I am going where angels fear to tread. I never realised how difficult it is to identify bumble bees because their colouration, at once so distinctive can also be variable intra species and confusing interspecies because of similarities between the species. It is safer to identify them just as bumble bees but I hope I am safe with this one.
Bombus pratorum is usually the first bumble bee to start nesting. I took this photograph on the 28 February 2013. It was a cool spring and I think this was a young queen.
Outside the garden I see them on red dead nettle ( Lamium purpureum). I find the workers very fast flying and difficult to photograph and I do not have a good photograph of a male – yet.
Inside the garden they frequent the Lamiastrum and ..
I have started to read “The Humble-Bee” by F.W.L. Sladen for the second time. The first time I read it too quickly because I was enjoying it too much – despite the fact that I had purchased a cheap paperback edition as I had not got much expectations of the readability of a book first published in 1892. Now I am savouring my new hardback edition with colour plates. I am very much in awe of Sladen who had worked all this out before he was sixteen and I am struggling to upload the information he presents to me ready packaged.
Sladen notes that the colonies break up in July. I tend not to see them in the garden before that so perhaps as the spring progresses they have more wild flowers to forage outside of the garden.
Sladen notes that he has seen them as late as September in a garden at Ripple, England.
I see them for the last time here in France as late as October.