Bombus monticola - activity of queens

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Ben hargreaves
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Joined: 07/05/2014 - 15:57
Bombus monticola - activity of queens

Just wondered if anyone has records of Bombus monticola queens emerging in March / early April and where from - of particular interest would be Shropshire / Derbyshire / Yorkshire records.

I've scheduled a survey - weather depending - to look for Bilberry Bumblebee queens on the 10th April, though I have only seen workers on bramble and Common Cow-wheat in the targeted area, in June last year.
There are records of workers on ling in August from the same area.

There is one record of a queen / worker on willow in spring from a few years ago, though to my knowledge no other spring records anywhere in the areas with records.

The targeted area is on the fringe of the West Pennines in central Lancashire at around 500 ft above sea level, though relatively sheltered as a less intensively farmed area - there is a range of willows inc. the Goat - Grey spectrum, Eared Willow, Osier and Crack - White sps.

Cheers in advance,

Ben Hargreaves,
Lancashire Wildlife Trust.

Nigel Jones
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Bombus monticola in April

Ben,

For the Shropshire Atlas we gathered together about 100 records for B. monticola over the period 1954 - 2013, with the vast majority of records since 2001. We have just 3 records from April (14, 20 and 27) and none from March. My guess is that this is a fairly late emerging species, but of course it is likely that very few people would be out on the uplands looking for aculeates this early in the season, so it is possible that B. monticola does fly earlier than records suggest - there may be only one way to find out and that is to visit likely areas in April.

 

 

Simon Saxton
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Bombus monticola queens

Here in the South Pennines of West Yorkshire, B. monticola queens found from early May (1st is my earliest record, so perhaps late April would be OK) Queens seem to rely on Vaccinium to start their colonies, it is important that this is flowering where you are. Queens do visit other flowers (I've even seen them on Cotoneasters in the centre of Bradford!). I find they usually start provisioning on the moor and move off in June to find pollen, then end up back on the moor in July/August. An exception would be Harden Moor (height: up to 290m ) where the mosaic habitat provides enough forage to supply provisions throughout their flight period which lasts well into September.

Ben hargreaves
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B. monticola

Thanks Simon and Nigel - there are pics taken by Tim Melling at Hade Edge on FLickr from 10/04/11, although this was an unusually warm spring; the Bilberry would not be out - possibly at all - in most years at that time (in West Pennines anyway).

I'll have a look nearer to April.

Paddy
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Joined: 03/04/2013 - 21:34
monticola

Hi Ben,

On dartmoor they can come out a bit before the main bilberry flowering on to willow my earliest was around the 6 april, and have had few other records around mid april. im my experience they do need a huge amount of bilberry and would expect they would only be on flowering salix fairly near areas with lots of bilberry. Most queens i have seen on bilberry. I was shocked to have a queen in my garden on grape hyacinth but that must have been a really aberant record and the only cornish monticola for 30yrs.

seen the workers on all sorts of stuff, often occuring on haymeadows near bilberry moorland, i dont think the workers are very fussy

all the best

Ben hargreaves
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early monticola

Thanks Paddy - this is interesting, there will be little other than willows out for them in early April in the north west. It surprises me that Bilberry does seem to be more tardy in flowering in Lancs than other areas, even at some lower, almost lowland altitudes - it would be interesting if areas of early emergence had more Goat Willow than other sallow offering earlier pollen (though as a "species" this is less common than Grey Willow in much of Lancs, particularly wet areas).
Some early April records for West Yorkshire were in 2011 when it was particularly warm in March and April.

Matt Smith
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Joined: 13/05/2012 - 12:42
B.monticola

Mike Edwards and I did a few days survey work on Dartmoor a few years ago looking at early spring forage for B.monicola queens, primarily to see what queens were visiting before the bilberry was in flower.  We were on site at Yarner Wood and other parts of the moor in mid-April (15/16/17) - the only queens we found were visiting Salix, bilberry forage was almost non existant at that time.

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