Hot under the Thorax

Today I started the process of systematically reviewing our CCTV footage to note down the "first exit" and "last arrival" times of our bumblebees. This is something I am curious to plot - I don't expect to find anything particularly astounding but I'm interested to plot the graph and see if it follows a pattern, such as sunlight times. Or whether there is some other pattern that can be identified. I ended up not getting the job finished, partly because I also started review the footage from when we first installed the DVR and also the camera into the hive. Actually, it was kinda funny - when viewing the footage from when we put the camera into the nestbox, it's like something from Blair Witch project! It's dark and jerky, lots of shots of the ground, flashes of faces, every once in a while you see the stanley knife I used to cut the box, and then you see flashes of my infra-red face while wearing marigolds! 

Early Bumble

It was very windy today, so while out in the garden I saw an Early Bumblebee on the Lavender hanging on for dear life! It was clinging with all its might, legs wrapped fully round the flower trying to stay hanging on. This gave me a chance to try some macro photos of it, although the wind was a nightmare and most of the pictures were pretty blurred. Of course, I could have upped the ISO setting on the camera to use a faster shutter speed, but that creates more noise which is undesirable; and actually didn't solve the biggest problem which was trying to track the focus. Anyway, I still got some reasonable pics:

 Early Bumble Bee - Bombus Pratorum - Male (see the moustache!)Early bumble bee - bombus pratorum

It turns out we are seeing male Early bumbles. We can tell they are males because:

  • they are not collecting pollen (they don't, they just feed for themselves)
  • they have a moustache
  • they have 13 segments on their antenna, not 12 like the females

 At one point one of these males flew onto BCW's bright purple jumper, so I got a great photo of it there:

 Early Bumblebee (Male - Bombus Pratorum)

It's a amazing how bright and fluffy they are! They are very unmistakable!

Cold Bufftail

Shortly after we spotting a Bufftail landing on the grass - we weren't sure if it was one of ours or not, but we suspected at first it was just struggling to fly in the gusty wind and was bedding down in the grass for a few moments. Again, I took the opportunity to get some close up photos, although this little bee was more inclined to give me her warning leg.

Bufftail Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) resting and warming in the grass - also with some grey (Broad Bean) pollen in her basketswarning leg from BufftailEventually we figured that perhaps she was too cold to fly and could do with some help to warm up as we didn't know if she was one of ours (in which case we could have just transported her to our nest box). So I got the garden patio heater out and started to heat the area where she had landed. Within about a minute she buzzed and did some short flights of a few inches, so we knew she was warming up. The ground around her by this time was climbing, and ranging between about 30 degrees and 50 degrees. Within another 30 seconds she was all warmed up and off! She flew over the fence, so we don't know whether she was one of ours or not - either way, it was great to get her on her way!