Friday 22 July 2016

We're covered in Bees

 A few weeks ago, Alasdair and myself attended a Bumblebee Identification workshop run by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust to learn the basics on how to accurately identify species and tell the difference between males, female workers and queens.

Look we caught a bee (and then let it go again...just in case you're worried!!)

Which bee is it? 

When it comes to telling bees apart its all about number and colour of stripes and how hairy are those legs! But first you need to tell if its even a bumblebee as there are many flies which imitate our bee's.

Check if the 'Bee' has small eyes and long antennae. Flies and Hoverflies tend to have short antennae and big eyes!

                                                     This a Bee Fly so not a Bee - look at its big eyes and short antennae                                                 (image copyright wikimedia commons by Gbohne)

Once you're sure its a bee then the position, colour and size of the stripes on a bee's body is crucial for identification. Workers, males, and queens can have different markings as well even though they are the same species.  The Bumblebee Conservation Trust has some great resources to help with identification.

Female workers have pollen baskets on the back legs which either have pollen on or appear smooth and shiny. Males (and the parasitic Cuckoo bees) don't have these and so the legs are hairy all the way round, they also appear 'lazy' (technical description!) as they only need to feed themselves and not provide for the nest. 

This is a female worker, spot the pollen on the back leg 
Shiny legs of a worker! 

This week the Corehead volunteers completed our first Bee Walk survey. Our transect goes through the meadow we have been managing to increase wildflowers and up into the five year old replanted native woodland in Tweedhope. Its going to be fascinating to see if number and diversity of bee species increase as habitat restoration at Corehead continues.  
Corehead survey in action 

We found a Tree Bumblebee, White tailed, Buff tailed, Common Carder and Blaeberry bumblebee.

The Tree Bumble is a relative new comer to Scotland and has slowly been making its way northwards and the Blaeberry Bumblebee is an upland species which a bright orange/red tail and abdomen! 

Thanks to John for the great photo above of  the Blaeberry Bumblebee on clover at Corehead

Site and Community Officer

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