Flight season: March into late September.
Flowers visited: The relatively short tongued the workers like brambles, comfreys, oil seed rape and cotoneasters.
Nesting preferences: Typically aerial nesters using holes in trees, bird boxes and under the eaves of houses. Roughly 150 workers.
Status: Appeared in the UK in 2001 and has spread rapidly northwards colonising at an amazing rate! It reached Scotland in 2013.
Parasites: None known as yet in the UK but the cuckoo bumblebee Bombus norvegicus is a parasite abroad.
Similar species: Quite distinct from all other UK species.
Description: Strikingly different to all our other bees this bumble really stands out. She is very much a continental creature who has made herself at home here. She only arrived in 2001, presumably blown across with a few other queens from France, but has since spread northwards right up into Scotland. Their rate of movement north is incredible and, as only a few bees were blown across, they must have a very low genetic diversity in their population. Certainly it's true that we in the UK have more of the darker form than on the continent. Their genetic diversity is currently being studied by a PhD student at Plymouth university.
Her preferred nesting site is in a hole in a tree and so you can frequently find them using bird nest boxes or even in roofs.
Despite the fact they have colonised very quickly there is absolutely no evidence that they are posing a threat to our more native bees.
Where to see them: A fairly common garden visitor and can be seen throughout the valley. They don’t seem to have any flower preference but we have them nesting in a hole in the masonry of our house!