The tree bumblebees in the nest box are an interesting photo challenge. Quite easy to film and photo on the iPhone, but trying to use a zoom lens on the SLR was a different sort of challenge. I’m not sure if the quality is any better, and both the me and the bees found the constant chatter of the lens as it autofocused quite distracting. Manual focus seems the way to go.
I was bemused and mildly perturbed when tree bumblebees set up home in a nest box normally used by blue tits. Just a neat socially-distanced two metres from where we sometimes sit out when it’s sunny. I suspected, rightly, that they were like the Borg, and would ignore us as long as they did not consider us an immediate threat.
There’s a really good article on the Bumblebee conservation trust website that explains all about tree bumblebees and their, at times, somewhat mystifying behaviour. For the moment, I for one welcome my new bumbleebee overlords, and, in a month or two, when they’ve packed up and gone, I suspect I’ll quite miss them.
The Natural History Society of Northumbria are currently promoting The North East Bee Hunt. I like bees, but I don’t know much about them. I especially don’t know anything about identifying them, so I like it when the introduction to the hunt includes the very unthreatening come-on-in of:
Urban or rural, beginner or expert, naturalist or nature lover, everyone can help to increase our knowledge and awareness of bees in the North East.https://www.nhsn.ncl.ac.uk/activities/the-north-east-bee-hunt/
Well that doesn’t sound scary so I signed up, and also set myself up an account on irecord, the website where records and sightings are submitted and checked.
In these Covid-19 locked-down times, there are worse places to be than in your garden squinting at bees through your camera then trying to work out what they are. The Natural History Society provide an identification guide of the five key species that they’re interesting, although I also found the BTO guide useful too, especially as I found I had a Buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) in my hunt.
It’s a good feeling submitting a record. It’s an even better feeling when your ‘likely’ identification is approved with a big green tick.
I saw two species yesterday, and I think I’d probably recognise them again in an identity parade. Not the individuals, obviously, but the species I think I’d manage.
There were about half a dozen or so bumblebees buzzing around on the willow flowers, about 4 or 5 metres above my head. Zooming in on the photos I had tree bumblebees and buff-tailed bumblebees.
I thought they were all tree bumblebees at first, but after submitting the record it was pointed out to me that I also had buff-tailed bumblebees.