21 August 2012

Gypsy Cuckoo Bee. Again.. (Or maybe not!)

Gypsy Cuckoo Bee (Bombus bohemicus)
We are lucky that in our area it is possible to find many of the bumblebee species that make up the British list. The Gypsy Cuckoo Bee is one that can be locally common in these parts, and that is not surprising given that the host for this cuckoo bee is the White-tailed Bumblebee which is abundant. What is interesting is that the Gypsy Cuckoo Bee is often uncommon in many parts of Britain where the White-tailed Bumblebee thrives. It's also worth noting that I've only seen this species once before, last year (19/8/11), and that individual was also a male.


Mark Hipkin said...

Or maybe not at all! I'm a little concerned that this bee maybe Bombus hortorum? In fact my identification of B. bohemicus, from last year may also be that species (which can be viewed quickly by clicking on the label "GYPSEY CUCKOO BEE')? The long face and hairy hind tibia on this bee at least seems to suggest it is not B. bohemicus! Please feel free to call the species of this bee. It maybe some time before I get to the bottom of it.

Anonymous said...


I share your doubts. The tail should have more extensive white than this if bohemicus and only one yellow band on the thorax. Can't see if the hind tibia is covered in hairs in this view or the shape of the face, but against a cuckoo bee is the paleness of the wings. Just assuming this is a cuckoo bee the colour pattern would suggest barbutellus.

Paul Larkin

Mark Hipkin said...

Hi Paul,
Thanks for your comments I've got a few shots which hopefully in the next few days I will put together and send to you, for you to look at.
I'm finding these bees a bit of a minefield, and it is becoming clear to me that confident identification cannot be achieved by photos alone. I can't help feeling I've stated that before somewhere!