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Old Tuesday 5th May 2020, 18:20   #1
Surreybirder
Ken Noble
 
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Hi, I have been trying to ID some bees on a Ceanothus in our garden. Unfortunately they are never still for a moment so I've not managed any very helpful photos. But I wonder if there's any clue as to what they are. They're not very big - perhaps just over a cm.
Thanks,
Ken
(I'm in Surrey and they were taken today, 5th May.)
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Old Wednesday 6th May 2020, 04:38   #2
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The left hand one looks like Bombus pratorum. Can't see the face on the other but probably either B. hortorum which is fairly common in gardens, but seeing you're in Surrey-if you're near heathland maybe B. jonellus which has a shorter face than the previous species.
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Old Wednesday 6th May 2020, 06:58   #3
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thanks Aeshna. I'm in east Surrey, miles from any heathland, so I will go with B hortorum. Have you any tips on photographing them? I wonder if it's worth trying to pot them, temporarily.
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Old Wednesday 6th May 2020, 07:26   #4
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thanks Aeshna. I'm in east Surrey, miles from any heathland, so I will go with B hortorum. Have you any tips on photographing them? I wonder if it's worth trying to pot them, temporarily.
Though I have a camera I don't consider myself a photographer & mainly use it overseas so not qualified to help here.
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Old Wednesday 6th May 2020, 08:49   #5
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Originally Posted by aeshna5 View Post
The left hand one looks like Bombus pratorum. Can't see the face on the other but probably either B. hortorum which is fairly common in gardens, but seeing you're in Surrey-if you're near heathland maybe B. jonellus which has a shorter face than the previous species.
Agree with both dets
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Old Wednesday 6th May 2020, 14:35   #6
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I would go more towards the second one being jonellus, as mentioned above, they are shorter faced and are always on my Ceanothus, but I've never seen the longer faced hortorum on this plant. Secondly the size of the bee against the flower suggest jonellus which is always smaller than hortorum by some margin.
Many hortorum are only just at the start of their nesting cycle, whereas jonellus has been out for a number of weeks and nests are well established. Also, bear in mind that jonellus is NOT tied to heathland despite the pointless/misleading 'English' name.
I have a friend who has spent many years working on Bumblebees and has informed me in the past that he has studied nests of jonellus on Romney Marsh (nowhere near any significant heathland), the Somerset Levels and, more importantly Salisbury Plain the largest area of chalk grassland in southern England. He's also mentioned in the past seeing male jonellus in the first week of May as a testament to their early season while hortorum queens often only emerge in late April to coincide with the first flush of White Dead-nettle flowers which seem to be quite an important early forage resource when other plants with long flower tubes are in relatively short supply.

Hope this helps.
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Old Wednesday 6th May 2020, 21:07   #7
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I've been trying to take some more photos - with mixed success. But I'll post a few to see if it helps.
First the ones with the white rear ends.
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Old Wednesday 6th May 2020, 21:09   #8
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Now the ones with the reddish bums... though they are still not the greatest shots, I apologise. I didn't notice much of a size difference although there was one appreciably larger example of the white bums.
Ken
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Old Thursday 7th May 2020, 05:52   #9
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The two additional ones with white tails are B. hypnorum, all the ones with a red tail are pratorum.
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Old Friday 8th May 2020, 10:15   #10
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I had another go at photoing the ones with the white rear ends. I wish they would stay still for a second! Does this enable a firm ID?
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Old Friday 8th May 2020, 12:42   #11
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With a short face like that, jonellus
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Old Friday 8th May 2020, 13:55   #12
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Thanks, Walter. So that means I have had B pratorum, B jonellus and B hypnorum. I've also seen a single example of a larger species. Again I've struggled with photos. But I think it could be B hypnorum again?
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Old Friday 8th May 2020, 14:23   #13
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That's pascuorum, ginger tail as opposed to white in hypnorum.
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Old Friday 8th May 2020, 16:19   #14
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Thanks, Walter.
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Old Friday 8th May 2020, 16:23   #15
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I had another go at photoing the ones with the white rear ends. I wish they would stay still for a second! Does this enable a firm ID?
but this one does not seem to have rear thoracic yellow band, I would not be so confident that this was jonellus on this view.
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Old Friday 8th May 2020, 16:58   #16
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There was a larger one - perhaps 15mm briefly present in our garden. It had a prominent white rear. Sorry about the photos.
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Old Friday 8th May 2020, 17:26   #17
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There was a larger one - perhaps 15mm briefly present in our garden. It had a prominent white rear. Sorry about the photos.
Presumably hortorum, but too blurry. Try potting one, cooling in fridge for a bit and then photograph. BTW do you live close to the kind of extensive habitat where jonellus occurs? ie calcareous grassland, fenland, heathland (presumably not moor or coastal marshes in Surrey). B. jonellus is a scarce species in SE England (outside Dungeness area) so well worth getting a definitive shot.

https://www.bwars.com/bee/apidae/bombus-jonellus
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Old Friday 8th May 2020, 19:02   #18
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Presumably hortorum, but too blurry. Try potting one, cooling in fridge for a bit and then photograph. BTW do you live close to the kind of extensive habitat where jonellus occurs? ie calcareous grassland, fenland, heathland (presumably not moor or coastal marshes in Surrey). B. jonellus is a scarce species in SE England (outside Dungeness area) so well worth getting a definitive shot.

https://www.bwars.com/bee/apidae/bombus-jonellus
Hi, Ficedula,
I live in SE Surrey. We are some distance from any heathland. Ashdown Forest is the nearest extensive heathland, about 20 minutes' drive away. The nearest calcareous grassland is probably the North Downs, also about 8 miles north of us.
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