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Mellifera Crofter
10-11-2015, 09:59 PM
I saw this bee late September and I'm only now getting round to asking if anybody knows what it is (or perhaps use that new book (http://www.sbai.org.uk/sbai_forum/showthread.php?2117-New-book-on-wild-British-bees)).

On first glance I was taken aback because that pointy tail looked like a giant honey bee. I don't think I've ever seen a bumble bee with a pointy tail - but I suppose it is a bumble bee!

Kitta

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gavin
10-11-2015, 10:46 PM
You will need that book, there's no getting away from it.

There really are sharp-tailed bees but they are a lot pointier than your specimen.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/63075200@N07/collections/72157637781085684/

Yours is a drone Bombus of some kind. Long antennae and no pollen basket plus that tapered bum. I suspect it is an old and faded Forest Cuckoo Bee, one of the parasitic species (parasitic on the Early, the Heath and the Bilberry Bumble Bees). Could be wrong.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/63075200@N07/sets/72157631614916795/

gavin
10-11-2015, 10:53 PM
Here's another. Of course cuckoo bees have reduced pollen baskets anyway, relying on their hosts to do the hard work.

http://www.biopix.com/photos/JCS-Bombus-sylvestris-37770.jpg

Greengage
11-11-2015, 09:19 AM
Cuckoo bumblebees are facinating creatures, They usually emerge from hibernation after most other bumblebees have emerged and established their nest, They will not enter a nest if it is too small or too big as the brood therein cannot support her young if to small and could kill her if too big. While most bees will have Workers and males and a queen, the Cuckoo bumblebee only produces Males and Queens.NO need for workers as the bumblebees in the hive she takes over do all the work.
http://www.bumblebee.org/cuckoo.htm
This is probably the best book ever written on Bumblebees even still
http://www.buzzaboutbees.net/support-files/sladenbumblebees.pdf
Dave Goulson has writen a couple of books also one called A sting in the tale and the other called Buzz in the meadow both great reads.

gavin
11-11-2015, 11:19 AM
http://www.bumblebee.org/cuckoo.htm


Laura Smith, the creator of that site, lives in the Mearns so she is fairly local to you, Kitta. The drawings she uses are lifted from Prys-Jones and Corbett (an excellent little guide) and they miss out the white-tailed form of Bombus sylvestris which you can see in Steven Falk's book in Plate 20.

I'm reconsidering Bombus sylvestris as they usually have black at the tip of the abdomen so perhaps a more likely species for Aberdeenshire is the Field Cuckoo Bumblebee, Bombus campestris.

Here's a drone photo on the BWARS site. The BWARS map lacks dots where you are so it may be worth sending a photo or a link to this discussion to a real expert, such as Steven Falk or Mike Edwards. However the map at NBN Gateway has a few more dots in NE Scotland. If I remember correctly we saw one near Inverurie when working on a pollen/gene flow project many years ago. They are likely under-recorded.

http://www.bwars.com/index.php?q=bee/apidae/bombus-campestris
https://data.nbn.org.uk/Taxa/NHMSYS0000875494/Grid_Map

http://www.bwars.com/index.php?q=sites/www.bwars.com/files/imagecache/large/species_images/bombus-campestris_7sf.jpg

The Drone Ranger
11-11-2015, 12:59 PM
This is where wing morphometry can really be useful (its original purpose)
Those wing patterns will be in a database somewhere
Unfortunately Kitta you let the subject fly away missing the opportunity to sample it's wings

What can be fairly stated is it was in no way related to Amm as when spotted it still had wings on both sides of its body

Better weather today I should stop messing around and do something useful :)

Mellifera Crofter
11-11-2015, 09:38 PM
Thank you for all the interesting replies! I have a lot of reading to do and will definitely buy the book as well.

I think your second guess is more likely to be the correct one, Gavin. That campestris looks just like the bee I saw on one of my beehives.
...
Some of the pointy-tailed bees on that first link you gave, Gavin, is rather vicious-looking. My visiting campestris looks benign in comparison.

Thanks again.
Kitta

The Drone Ranger
12-11-2015, 12:45 AM
Gavin, is rather vicious-looking. My visiting campestris looks benign in comparison.
Kitta

Bit Harsh Kitta ?

gavin
12-11-2015, 12:48 AM
Bit Harsh Kitta ?

Please! Cuddly and sympathetic, I like to think.

Mellifera Crofter
12-11-2015, 01:17 AM
Please! Cuddly and sympathetic, I like to think.

I don't know about the cuddly part, but definitely sympathetic.
Kitta

gavin
12-11-2015, 06:19 PM
This is probably the best book ever written on Bumblebees even still
http://www.buzzaboutbees.net/support-files/sladenbumblebees.pdf


You're not wrong! That is a *cracking* book, packed with insight and detail I haven't seen elsewhere. Thanks for posting the link GG.

Two points on cuckoo bees. They have smokey wings which I think you can see in Kitta's photos. They also have thickened cuticles which serve them well in their tussles inside the nests of other species before they take over. Sladen describes the process of nest usurpation really well.

Why smokey wings? I reckon it is a side effect of having genes that give thick cuticles.

Greengage
12-11-2015, 06:30 PM
You can still buy copies on Amazon I think, But he was so far ahead of his time for the times he lived in.

gavin
13-11-2015, 01:49 AM
You can still buy copies on Amazon I think, But he was so far ahead of his time for the times he lived in.

True, you can buy the reprint from Amazon for 34 but you can also buy it from Northern Bee Books for just 15.45.

http://www.northernbeebooks.co.uk/booklist/all-available-new-books/page/22/

G.

prakel
13-11-2015, 07:39 AM
True, you can buy the reprint from Amazon for 34 but you can also buy it from Northern Bee Books for just 15.45.

http://www.northernbeebooks.co.uk/booklist/all-available-new-books/page/22/

G.

Or you can wait (while reading the excellent pdf which Greengage linked) and then buy an original copy which'll give you an edge against a rainy summer day :).

While searching for a different (queen rearing) book I've honestly seen two first eds of Sladen's Humble-bee go, in the last five or six months for less than 40 each and this was from respected book dealers not intenet-auction-frenzy-sites. One of them was a particularly fine copy.

Knowledge is fine whatever cover it comes in but some formats will be worth more tomorrow while others will simply depreciate. Bargains are out there, just waiting to be had by the patient searcher.

prakel
13-11-2015, 08:25 AM
......Not that I'm trying to deflect trade from NBB, a company which should be thought of as a National Treasure by all beekeepers.