27 January 2012

Early Bombus hypnorum

(c) C. Hipkin
 I noticed a Bumblebee on the patio this morning, it was pretty messed up after a heavy downpour. Clearly a recent emerged Bumblebee that may have been caught out by last night's cooler temps? When I went to pick it up I noticed a small amount of movement in its legs. I'm not sure where I got this info from, maybe read it somewhere or Nigel Ajax-Lewis told me, but you can give Bumblebees a much needed energy boost by letting them feed from honey?
The Bumblebee was put on a bit of kitchen towel with a small amount of honey, covered with a plastic tray and placed on the windowsill which gets the morning sun. About 90mins later it was ready to go. The top photo, taken by Charles Hipkin, shows it not long after release in tip-top condition.
On a more serious note it wasn't that long ago that Bombus hypnorum was first recorded in Glamorgan, less than two years ago I think, but the early emergence and long flying season is allowing this Bumblebee to spread like wildfire across British Isles and is sure to be one of our most common Bumblebees in years to come. I like them, not least because they're distinctive among other Bumblebee species!!


Barry Stewart said...

That's the earliest hypnorum I've ever heard of in these parts - and very lucky she ended up moribund in your garden! Perhaps her progeny will visit your garden all summer :)

John said...

Whilst reading the blog about Bombus I thought I'd mention something I witnessed this morning.Whilst having coffee on the 28th floor of the Meridian Tower there was a large Bumblebee flying around outside the windows ! It had never occurred to me that they would attain such heights. I'm currently trying to find something on the subject but any comment would be appreciated. Thanks. John

Barry Stewart said...

The Tower is 107m high, so that's one high-flying bee!

Anonymous said...

Well done Mark :)

Anonymous said...

Super job Mark it worked like a dream. Although I am disappointed that in at least two years recently you have beaten me to the first bumblebee of the year.

Your photographs show what seriously rugged beasts they are. One can see apparently moribund bumblebees in most seasons of the year but they very rarely are, if they can still wave a leg at you, giving the impression that they are having the father of all hangovers.

But coming out of hibernation at the end of January is not likely to be a recipe for successful nest founding so I hope it will have gone back into torpor with its reserves replenished. The last bumblebee I saw in 2011 was a queen Bombus pratorum on 17th November still collecting nectar and pollen which made me wonder whether it was not trying to set up a third colony for the year.

I don’t have any difficulty with a large bumblebee flying up 28 floors of the Meridian Tower, which if it was stripped I would put money on having been a buff-tailed queen. I have seen them through binoculars flying higher up cliffs in the Alps to feed on flushes of arctic alpine flowers. The big question is why? I found a photograph of the building and can only speculate that it might have had something to do with any sunlight reflecting in the glass that made it think it was worth going to investigate.

There is precious little food about, apart from a bit of gorse, and some bits of municipal winter planting, even though there are a lot of individual flowers coming out very early or totally out of season, which is where the winter flowering heathers come in so usefully as per chez Hipkin.