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Watch out for the all blacks

What was almost one of our nationally extinct bumblebees, Bombus ruderatus the large garden bumblebee, is making a strong return to the western half of the RX area from its nadir in the late 1990s.  So much so that I have had bees foraging on purple toadflax in the garden at Northiam this week.


This individual, a worker collecting pollen, was the all black form of the species.  Note the characteristically short neat fur.

The next picture shows the long face of this bumblebee.  Other all black bumblebees such as the field cuckoo bee and darkened forms of the buff-tailed bumblebee have a short face.

We suspect that the factor driving the recovery of this insect has been Environmental stewardship and in particular the planting of red clover either in field margins or whole fields.  Should you happen to see any of these entirely black bees (no orange tail) in the RX area please let me know by leaving a comment on the website as I am keen to record the spread of this insect.

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