I saw these three bumble bees seemingly having a nice time on the pavement this Saturday (May 28th). Knowning nothing about bees, I assumed they were mating, but on reading further I have discovered that bumble bees mate in the autumn.
So, if they're not mating, what are they doing? Is this a 'foreign' bee, being attacked, or has the early warm weather followed by cooler weather fooled them in to thinking it is autumn, or is this a new queen starting a colony later than normal, or something else? I'd love to know. Thanks.
Hi Paul - they didn't seem to be moving much at all to be honest, but they may have been there some time. I was in a bit of a rush so I didn't have chance to observe them for long, sadly. At the time t didn't occur to me that it would be anything other than bees 'colonising and populating' as the Rev. Spooner would have it.
These are Bombus hypnorum, the recent coloniser. Please report your sighting to BWARS.com.
Some bumblebee species have shorter colony cycles so are capable of producing two populations a year. So the new mated queen, above, that has just emerged from a first colony spring nest will go off and nest itself this year. The resultant new queens from that second population nest will be the ones to mate in the late summer/autumn which will over-winter to start the process again next spring.