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bee (1 Viewer)

Surreybirder

Ken Noble
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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aeshna5

Well-known member
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.
 

Surreybirder

Ken Noble
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.
 

aeshna5

Well-known member
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.
 

Ficedula

velico ergo sum
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
 

WalterRayle

Emeritus Prof at University of the Bearded Clam
United Kingdom
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.
 

Surreybirder

Ken Noble
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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Surreybirder

Ken Noble
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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WalterRayle

Emeritus Prof at University of the Bearded Clam
United Kingdom
The two additional ones with white tails are B. hypnorum, all the ones with a red tail are pratorum.
 

Surreybirder

Ken Noble
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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Surreybirder

Ken Noble
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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Ficedula

velico ergo sum
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.
 

Surreybirder

Ken Noble
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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Ficedula

velico ergo sum
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
 

Surreybirder

Ken Noble
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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