Species: Red-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius)

Family: Bumble and Honey Bees (APIDAE)

Category: Insects (Other)

Location: Widespread

A. Insects (Other)

More extensive information on insects can be found in a separate blog post.

B. Bumble and Honey Bees (APIDAE)

The honey and bumble bees are social insects, whereas all other bees are solitary. Bumble Bees live in small colonies, often underground but they can be in dense terrestrial vegetation. Most of those seen in Spring and early Summer will be females, males appearing in late Summer. They have long antennae. There are 17-24 species of Bumble Bee depending on which entomologist is compiling the classification.

In former times, hives and bees were traditionally acquired by barter, or for gold or silver, for to exchange for cash was considered an unlucky transaction. It was considered bad luck to carry a hive across flowing water. Bees are said to be fussy about who manages them and will not produce honey for someone ill-behaved or of criminal tendencies, nor for someone quarrelsome or foul-mouthed. If bees suddenly quit a hive then death or ill-luck will visit the owner’s house. If a bee owner dies the hives must be turned. If a funeral cortège passes, hives must be lifted until it has gone from view. For all significant family news the hives are tapped and the news whispered to the bees, or the bees may leave in disgust, or misfortune may strike. At weddings or birthdays a piece of cake is given to the bees; at funerals black crêpe is wrapped round the hives. A swarm of bees settling on a dead tree is a portent of death.

Note that various mason bees and mining bees have also been found in the Cemetery.

C. Red-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius)

Quite distinctive are the jet-black body and red-orange tail, with black pollen baskets. This species prefers to nest underground or under stones.


Red-tailed Bumblebee

Quite distinctive of the Red-tailed Bumblebee are the jet-black body and red-orange tail, with black pollen baskets, shown here alongside what is probably a single Buff-tailed Bumblebee.

Red-tailed Bumblebee

Male Red-tailed Bumblebees have yellow-haired faces.

Red-tailed Bumblebee

Red-tailed Bumblebees have thoraxes with yellow bands (after a yellow-haired face - for males, as seen here), black abdomens and tails that are orange-red.

Even though this photograph is blurred in the extreme, it helps show the colour-banding of this particular bumblebee, here a male.

These bumblebees are noted to favour yellow flowers. Here, the yellow flower is a Common Ragwort. This species also feeds on Field Scabious and Common Knapweed and Greater Knapweed.