Of blackthorn flowers, bumbles and miners.
Wednesday 14 April 2021
The first half of April has been pretty miserable so far with cold northerly winds, frosts and occasional flurries of snow.
But who could have missed the wonderful show of blackthorn flowers at the back of the village green, now beginning to go over as I write (image 1). Blackthorn spreads using underground suckers producing dense areas of prickly scrub as has happened here
We have had a few brighter days and the brief periods of sunshine have brought bees to forage for nectar on the blackthorn flowers. So far, I have identified eight bee species on the village green blackthorn and feeding on the ground ivy below. Bumble bees are very difficult to identify and many look very similar to each other and mining bees are even more difficult. The commonest bumble has been the large queen buff-tailed bumble bee, Bombus terrestris, with orange bands and a buff or pale brown tail (image 2). A surprise were queen white-tailed bumble bees, Bombus lucorum, with brighter bands and a shining white tail (image 3). Another distinctive specie has been the early bumble bee, Bombus pratorum, distinguished by having yellow bands and an orange-red red tail (image 4). A really distinctive red tail is on the red-tailed bumble bee, Bombus lapidarious, (image 5) the queen being all black with its distinctive bright red tail. Bumbles will be even more difficult to identify as the male and worker bees and the cuckoo bees appear and which can be very similar.
Other bees on the blackthorn have been the very distinctive little tawny mining bees, Andrena fulva, (image 6) with their bright red furry bodies and also the grey-banded and shiny blue-black bodied ashy mining bees, Andrena cineraria, (image 7). Finally, has been the honey bee, Apis mellifera, which has been out for a few weeks now (image 8). Not illustrated here, but both the dotted and dark-banded beeflies have been feeding on the ground ivy growing below the blackthorns.
Keep safe everybody