A queen Bombus hypnorum was seen at midday on Sunday 10 January 2016 at Windsor Great Park. She was warming up in bright sunshine on the leaves of a Camellia japonica. This was a beautiful clean queen with bright "standard colouration" of ginger, black and white on thorax and abdomen. She was resting in the sunshine for at least 5 minutes. The air was cool (about 7C). This is the earliest date in the year that I have seen an emerging B.hypnorum queen by nearly a month. The earliest date in previous years was 9 February 2008.
This winter is still bringing up some surprises as a result of the exceptionally mild November and December. I have previously reported that a worker B.hypnorum was seen on 30 and 31 December. Unfortunately there have been no more sightings. New Year marked the end of the very mild weather in this part of the country and since then there has been a lot more rain and more cloudy conditions. Consequently the opportunities to forage have been restricted. It appears that the B.hypnorum nest has probably failed. The number of B.terrestris queens and workers reached a peak just before Christmas. In the last 3 weeks the numbers have suffered a very marked decline.
20:10 Monday 11 Jan 2016