Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bumble Bee? rare bee? or not rare bee? that is the question?

Buff - Tailed Bumblebee Bombus terrestris?

After posting this"Bumble Bee"photo on the my blog last night it already has a few naturalist asking questions? To start with....Yes, this photo was taken in my garden here on Fair Isle, Shetland.
I have to admit I looked in my Collins - Complete British Insects Guide Book?
Once there I was a bit confused, though I was drawn to the photo of Bomus terrestis it didn't have the ginger fringe on the tail? (a trait of the Queen?) So I just called it "Bee! 1st of the year!"And I was very happy with that, if it turns out to be a first for Shetland I'll be thrilled...

to quote one naturalist: 
 "It looks to be a very fresh looking Bombus terrestris queen – a species which has not yet been recorded in Orkney or Shetland so far as I know. Was the photo definitely taken on Fair Isle?
 If so it’s a very surprising find!"

I have added 4 more photos to make sure the identification is correct.

What do you think? 
Could it Bee a 1st for Fair Isle, Shetland & Orkney?

From an Email from Fair Isle's Nick Riddiford in Majorca:
Yes, you've got the bee world buzzing. Northernmost UK record; first northern isles record for Buff-Tailed Bumblebee Bombus terrestris, congrats. Significant find.

Added march 29th 2012
Henry's Bee found in the school play ground - Photo by Amber

Two days ago when I told my son 11 year old son Henry that I saw the first Bee of spring... He said, "Ha! I had one yesterday in the school playground." Cheeky! So yesterday when I told Henry that the Bumble Bee I saw was a first for Fair Isle, Shetland & Orkney he thought he should have that record. As Henry tried to steal my thunder once again, I told him he should of taken a photo. He remembered he didn't but, his classmate Amber did with the school camera! I made a call last night and I was emailed this photo this morning from the school teacher. (Thanks Lisa!) Ha! not the same Bee! but I have not definitive identification for this species either? My Collins Guide Book - Complete British Insects isn't showing any Bee in this stage or view? using the book my best guess was Bombus pascuorum? or Bombus muscorum? but I went online to the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust website for further help with their guides and photos and now think it maybe Bombus humilis Brown Banded Carder Bee?

I need your help! again? what will it Bee?

Hey kids! the pros say it's a very early record of 
Bombus muscorum (Shetland Bumble Bee)
earliest ever recorded in Shetland


  1. Tommy - you have struck again!Your garden is a wonderful place as I know only too well but you have to be looking and observant!

    Well done - you will have to start counting your Pan-species now!

  2. tommy i was thinking taking a trip soon to come to stay for a weekend as i like the your photos on your blog and scotland too, so is there any cheap hotels near you, if so let me know many thanks from neil

    1. We have a Guest House... See B&B link on my blog on top of the page