Saturday, 16 April 2011

The tale of the TMB!

Another interesting diversion from birds.

Emerging Tawny Mining Bee.

With KT having reported seeing a 'large' number of bees over a friends lawn she had visited the other day I had to go and investigate and soon discovered that KT had witnessed the recent emergence of a colony of Tawny Mining Bee (TMB) like the one in the photograph above leaving her nest.

Female Tawny Mining Bee.

The female TMB with her rich orange-red coat is unlikely to be mistaken for any other bee, she is a common visitor to currant and gooseberry flowers in April-June and frequently nests in the garden lawn where she throws up little volcano shaped mounds around her nest entrance which I found at this location soon after their emergence.

On the other hand....

Cuckoo Bee.

The 60 second video below is quite good and shows the Cuckoo Bee (CB) waiting for the TMB to wander off before entering it's nest to perform it's evil deed. You can initially just see the CB at the bottom of the frame.

The CB gets its name because - like their avian namesake - they are social parasites, they lay their eggs in the nests of various bumble-bees, which then rear the 'Cuckoo' grubs as their own, when the Cuckoo larva hatches they eat the host pollon ball and larva. There are six British species which - like the avian Cuckoo - sticks to a particular host species normally resembling it quite closely. A quite amazing characteristic of the female CB is the fact that it wakens from hibernation when the host nests are already well established making its parasitic behaviour much easier.         

1 comment:

Brian Rafferty said...

Thanks Pete very informative and interesting posting as usual. Looks like a super week for getting out about. You will be pleased to hear I had another pair of stonechats today on territory in the Langden Valley.Hope you get out and enjoy the good weather.