“Ooo,” emailed Professor Dave Goulson of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, when I sent him a photo of the unusual bee that had just landed on our patio on Friday (26 March).
”Exciting. This is Bombus hypnorum (invaded UK from France in 2001).”
Exciting indeed! And this is what Bombus hypnorum (the Tree Bee) looks like:
Isn’t she gorgeous?
The Tree Bumblebee was first spotted here in York last year – but I didn’t see it then. However, my sighting is the first one recorded in York in 2010! You can see a full distribution map for the UK at the BWARS website (i.e. the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society).
Needless to say, I have written a poem about this Tree Bumblebee, so she will soon be appearing in a Buzzing! show near you! Perhaps we’ll include it in our Edinburgh Fringe Buzzing! shows at the Royal Botanic Garden in August …
[STOP PRESS: Since originally writing this post, I have performed ‘Madame Honfleur’, my poem about the Tree Bumblebee, on Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4. Listen to the poem]
Do you have Tree Bumblebees where you are? Look out for a ginger thorax and a white tail. There are more ID tips here.
According to Stuart Roberts of BWARS, you are most likely to see the Tree Bumblebee ‘from mid-May to late June when the colonies are reaching maturity’. A top tip is to keep an eye on your bird boxes, as it seems that Tree Bees like to nest in them!
If you think you see a Tree bumblebee, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust wants to know! Email news of your sightings, and your photos, to them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy Bumblebee Hunting!
Meanwhile, my thanks to Prof. Dave Goulson of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and to Stuart Roberts of BWARS for their assistance.
STOP PRESS: Tree bumblebees went on to nest in my garden. Find out more about that here.