Early Bumblebee (Bombus pratorum) — ID Guide

Last week looked at the Red-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius), this week we will be looking at another species which also has a red tail, the tiny Early Bumblebee (Bombus pratorum).

B. pratorum Queen, notice the two yellow bands coupled with a red/orange tail. – Oisín Duffy
B. pratorum Queen, notice the two yellow bands coupled with a red/orange tail. – Oisín Duffy

B. pratorum is a relatively common and widespread species, it can be found in a number of habitats, although gardens, parklands and woodland rides are some of your best chances to see this species.

Queen B. pratorum looking fresh and showing colours well. – Oisín Duffy
Queen B. pratorum looking fresh and showing colours well. – Oisín Duffy

Using the same process as we’ve used for the other species, we’ll start with tail colour. The tail colour in B. pratorum is red (as mentioned last time, this can appear to be orange in colour also). The species also has one yellow band on the thorax, along with another yellow band on the abdomen, although this is not always present, which can cause momentary confusion in the species identification. Males are similar to females, only they have yellow tufts of hair on the face, coupled with their size and yellow band on the abdomen should clear up any confusion with a B. lapidarius male, their yellow colouring is generally much more extensive than their female counterparts. The size of the species really is quite tiny, being the smallest bumblebee species in Ireland (many of the workers I find are just over 1cm in size).

Tiny B.pratorum worker resting on my little finger, this one had been foraging as you can see the pollen basket on the leg. – Oisín Duffy
Tiny B. pratorum worker resting on my little finger, this one had been foraging as you can see the pollen basket on the leg. – Oisín Duffy
It’s not always easy being a bumblebee, this on met its end at the many legs of this spider (I belive it’s Misumena vatia. Also noticed how there is only one yellow band present, one on the thorax but it is absent from the abdomen. – Oisín Duffy
It’s not always easy being a bumblebee, this one met its end at the many legs of this spider (I believe it’s Misumena vatia). Also noticed how there is only one yellow band present, one on the thorax but it is absent from the abdomen. – Oisín Duffy
B.pratorum happily feeding on Common Dog Violet (Viola riviniana). – Oisín Duffy
B. pratorum happily feeding on Common Dog Violet (Viola riviniana). – Oisín Duffy

 

Oisín Duffy
About Oisín Duffy 23 Articles
Oisín Duffy is an ecologist and environmental educator with a special interest in the Flora of Ireland and Pollinators. He is the photographer and co-author of Biodiversity Ireland’s identification guide on “Trees and Shrubs”. He has a BA from NUIG and an MSc from NUIG and UL. Oisín is an active biological recorder, and current Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) Vice-county recorder for East Donegal (H34) and participates in a number of recording schemes run by the National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC), Bat Conservation Ireland (BCI) and others. In 2016, Oisín worked in conjunction with the National Biodiversity Data Centre to develop a plant monitoring scheme for Ireland. During the Summer of 2016, he toured Ireland giving workshops for the Irish Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. His most recent work has been as a photographer and author of the “Wildflowers in South Armagh”.

1 Comment on Early Bumblebee (Bombus pratorum) — ID Guide

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


*