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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

21 March, 2011

Buff-tailed Bumble-bee (Bombus Terrestris)

One of the first insects of spring is the humble bumble-bee, Bombus Terrestris. Also known as the Buff-tailed Bumblebee this can be confusing as it is not the only bunblee-bee with a buff tail! However, the two honey coloured bands, one on the thorax and one on the abdomen help you pin it down.

Down here in Dorset the queens, which hibernate, can be up and about in February although they are much later this year.appearing now, well in to March.

B. terrestris is a common garden species and can be seen throughout the spring and summer but it is very difficult to tell the workers apart from their cousin, the White Tailed Bumblebee, Bombus Lucorum which is also common.

As its name implies, Bombus terrestris is terrestrial! It prefers to nest under ground. Again, this is misleading as other species of bumblebee nest under ground too!

They will visit a wide range of flowers but they have a very short tongue and so will often bite through the base of the corolla on long tubed flowers to get to the nectar.

Bumblebees are lovely, furry creatures and pretty harmless too. They add another dimension to your garden wildlife and should be encouraged.