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General description - male patrolling circuits - long, narrow head - long tongue - long legs - tendency towards baldness - colony size and nesting sites
General description of Bombus hortorum the Garden bumblebee
Bombus hortorum has a long head and a slimmer body than B.
terrestris/lucorum. While flying between flowers that are close together,
e.g. foxgloves the bee often keeps its long tongue extended. Body lengths, queen
17-20, workers 11-16, male 14-15
Bombus hortorum is rather similar in colouring to
B. terrestris and B. lucorum workers. The
main, and easiest to spot, difference is that B. hortorum has two bands
of yellow hairs on its thorax. This can be seen on
the bee on the left.
In the photograph on
the left the bee is on a dandelion, this is because I put her there to show her long legs. B.
Hortorum prefers flowers such as red clover, cowslips, foxglove, vetches
and lavender. The workers and males are just slightly smaller than the
Bombus hortorum has the longest tongue of any British bumblebee
B. hortorum has the longest tongue of any bumblebee
in the UK, it is usually around 1.5 cm long, but some bees can stretch to over
2 cm. This means that it can forage on flowers that have deep corollas that
would keep out other bees. You will hardly ever see it on open or daisy type
flowers unless it is gathering pollen. In the photograph below left the worker is drinking nectar from a lavender flower, and doesn't need to use the whole tongue length or even stick