How do you spot a rare bumblebee found at Welney on the Norfolk Cambridgeshire border? First look for its exceptionally large tongue
- Credit: Archant
A rare bumblebee – easily spotted because of its exceptionally large tongue- has been spotted on the Cambridgeshire/Norfolk border.
The ruderal bumblebee was photographed at the Welney wetland centre this summer; the species is scarce in the UK.
Assistant warden Joshua Well said the bees are visiting the wildflowers on the reserve collecting nectar.
“At the same time, they are playing a vital role to the plants by pollinating them,” he said.
“Some members of this species lack the distinctive striping that is normally associated with these insects.”
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Only three populations of this species were found in Norfolk between 2001-2011. Many bumblebee species have seen a worrying decline in numbers due to threats including changes to modern land uses and farming practices.
Mr Wells said: “Ruderal bumblebees have a particularly long tongue, and so feed on flowers such as comfrey, yellow iris and marsh woundwort. They are also well adapted to feeding from red clover, teasel and thistles.
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“The wetlands we manage provide the plants these insects need to exist. You don’t have to look far; the swathes of wildflowers beside the footpaths are a favourite spot for the bees and many other pollinating insects.”
He said ruderal bumblebees will be out on the reserve for a few more weeks before the queens start to think about hibernating.