Back in September while I was home in Lincolnshire I was beginning to take a bit more notice of the bees that were still around in the garden. There were the big bumbles and honey bees, but also lots of these pretty dainty gingery bees which I now know are Bombus pascuorum (L. Pascuum: of the meadow) the Common Carder Bee. They don’t look like the archetypal bumble bee because they are not so obviously striped and, like yesterdays B pratorum, are small and dainty.
B Pascuorum: male 13 –14mm, left, and Queen 16-18mm /worker 10-15mm right
I watched them, one sun drenched afternoon, picking their way through the last of the lavender flowers which I had been sent to trim. (you can see the dead heads on the right.) There were just a few remaining blossoms which I could not bring myself to cut down, much to my father’s bemusement and slight irritation! I left them, untidy stragglers that they were, for the bees.
What I now know is Bombus pascuorum on the remaining lavender in Lincs in September.
The bee above is, I am pretty sure, a male, due to the long antennae and I can’t see a pollen basket either. They are called “carder bees” because of their habit of using “combed “ bits of vegetation and moss to cover over their nests which they will make in tussocky grass or in old deserted animal burrows. Here is a delightful clip of a carder bee nest in the UK from Maria Fremlin on Youtube, along with some lovely humming sounds of summer. At last we have a warm day here today.
They are very hairy little bees, never losing the thick tufty gingery hair on their thorax. Some bumble bees develop a definite bald spot here, as did my bombus hortorum, see my post “A Forlorn and Balding Bee”. Again my source for nearly all my bumblebee info is from the excellent Bumblebee.org.
I sat and watched them for some time buzzing round the lavender and saw how they have a very endearing way of swinging their little front legs forward when approaching a flower, preparing to land or grasp the flower.. so here is my carder bee approaching the last of the lavender.
The Common Carder Bee, Bombus Pascuorum and Lavender
Watercolour and pencil on Arches HP. 6 x 8 inches.
I realise that this is the last of the Bumble Bees I intended to paint for the exhibition, but of course there are others, and some very interesting ones, that we could see in the UK. So I just might try to fit in a “Shrill Carder Bee” or the recently arrived “Tree Bumble Bee” or even the Short Haired Bumblebee who is coming back to us from New Zealand.. you can read all about these at the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.