Flight of the bumblebee

Spring has arrived late in the UK this year, and the delay of warmer weather has meant that many of our insect species have also been slow to emerge from their winter hibernation. With the long anticipated, and very welcome arrival of sunny skies, flowers have finally sprung up, ready and waiting to be pollinated by the next generation of flying insects.

In the garden, the bees have now emerged and first to the flowers was the aptly named Early Bumblebee. This species is common around gardens, and is small but brightly marked, with lemon yellow banding and a recognisable orange tail.

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Early bumblebee – Bombus pratorum
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Landing on rosemary

 

It’s woolly face is ideal for transferring pollen, as plunges its head into a flower to feed on the pollen within.

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Feeding on nectar

After many failed attempts I finally succeeded in getting a couple of acceptable shots of the bumblebees in flight. It’s not easy to focus on such a small, agile moving target!

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Early bumblebee in flight
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Legs outstretched for landing, Not technically a great photo, but rather cute!

The large, fragrant Rosemary plant seemed particularly irresistible, not only to the early bumblebee but also to another less familiar species, certainly one I have not photographed before.

It is not difficult to see where the Hairy-Footed Flower Bee gets it’s name, with distinctive long hairs on it’s legs & feet . This pale brown dull yellow individual is a male.

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Hairy footed flower bee (male) – Anthophora plumipes
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The ginger bodied male
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Can you spot the hairy legs which give this bee it’s name?

 

The female Flower Bee is very distinctive and unmistakable with her jet black colouring and yellow pollen baskets on her rear legs.

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A blur of wings
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Female bee with orange pollen baskets
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Hairy footed flower bee (female)

Another smaller and more streamlined species of bee was also drawn to the rosemary.  The hairy body and distinct black stripes on the tail seem to indicate this is a type of mason bee. Any suggestions for an exact ID welcome!

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Mason bee?
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This bee has a very hairy body and striped tail


All photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography 2018 ©
http://www.greyfeatherphotography.com

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