Great Yellow Bumblebee - Bombus distinguendus
The great yellow bumblebee, Bombus distinguendus, really is a striking looking bee. As in Britain there have been huge declines of this species, this particular bee has been used to highlight the plight of all bumblebees in Britain.
Now Found Only in the Uk - in North Scotland
Bombus distinguendus once seen all over the UK is now only to be seen in the North of Scotland and The Western Isles and Orkney.
The lovely flowers on the summer flowering machairs are what tempts this bumblebee - especially the Red Clover which is a favourite for this bee.
Conspicuous striping on the Great Yellow Bumblebee
The great yellow bumblebee has a conspicuous stripe across its thorax This is a distinctive and large bumblebee with a long face and tongue.
Queens, Workers and Males - Same Colour Pattern
Queens, workers and males all share the same colour pattern of pale mustard-yellow or brownish yellow hairs that cover the whole body except for an even strip of black hairs running across the thorax between the wings.
Great Yellow Bumblebee is a Late Nester
Bombus distinguendus is a relatively late-nesting bumblebee species, active between May and September throughout its range.
In the late spring, queens (large females) emerge from hibernation and found colonies by rearing a brood of workers (small females) in an underground nest.
The Cycle of the Great Yellow Bumblebee
Great Yellow Bumblebee queens emerge late from hibernation from mid-June & search for a suitable nest site. The Great Yellow Bumblebee nest underground either under tussocks of grass or in a disused small mammal burrow such as an old wood mouse nest or a rabbit burrow.
A Chamber is Made
The queen makes a chamber inside which just has the one entrance She secretes wax from her abdomen and forms it into a pot which she fills with nectar and next to it a wax covered lump of pollen. The eggs 8-16 are laid inside. After a few days the queen incubates her eggs which hatch.
Larvae Feed on Pollen
The larvae begin feeding on the pollen, which is why the queen must replace the pollen as they grow. After a couple of weeks the larvae spin a cocoon and pupate and two more weeks after this, hatch into the first all-female ‘worker’ bumblebees. Some of these will stay behind to help rear the next batch of workers but most will leave the nest and forage to bring back pollen and nectar for the nest workers and developing young.
Queen rears Males and new Daughter Queens
The cycle continues until late July when the queen switches from producing workers to the rearing of males and new daughter queens. The males emerge from the nest in early August and daughter queens can to be seen between mid - August and early September. Soon after emerging from the nest young daughter queens will mate and then forage purposefully on pollen and nectar in order to build-up fat reserves. Mated daughter queens will search for a suitable hibernation spot.
Fertilised Queens and Form Chambers
The fertilised queens dig into loose soil in which they can burrow and form a small hibernation chamber to over winter in living off the fat reserves they laid down. Hibernation chambers are often made in deep plant litter or under grass tussocks in soil or sand dunes. During late August and September the remainder of the nest, the workers, males and the old queen die. The bumblebee life cycle will begin again the following year with the emergence of the hibernating queens in June.
GENERAL BEE FACTS
How did the bumblebee get its name? Related to the Honeybee? Colonies, Temperature - Body Heat - Life Cycle of The Bumblebee - Hibernation and many more bumble facts
|Inches and cm sizes are approximate|