The red-ass bumblebee is a strong pilot

Statue of Margot Holtmann

Counting bees on my balcony as part of the National Bee Count. Although the organizers forgot to mention the balconies as a counting place in the model. Balcony Nahlati is entering its fourth year. You start a project like this and then you really can’t stop. Because of bees and plants. Because of myself, I suppose.

In March it all started again. In no time was that brown mass of plants green again, and the early flowers were blooming. Just in time for the first bees, or vice versa: the bees were just in time for the first flowers to bloom.

I recognize the pattern now. The horned bee and the red builder bee, occupied with each other and with a bee hotel that was almost completely cut off; From the common currant bee that creeps over the balcony. I also saw a fox, a wonderful red bee.

and bees. The queens are on the balcony for a month, large and brightly colored. I now easily recognize the expected species: field bee, meadow bee, ground bee, bumblebee. It is difficult to say which one is better. Perhaps the bumblebee queen is fresh: black, with a thin yellow collar, another thin yellow belt on the abdomen, and then an orange butt, or point. Then the bumblebee: clear in color scheme, and in clarity. Black with brick red ass. A common type of bumblebee, but a discovery for me when I started this project. Obviously, he never knew that besides black, white, and yellow bumblebees, there were many other colored species. There are 29 species of bumblebees in the Netherlands, nine of them frequent my balcony all year round.

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The name stone bee derives from that red dot. latin name, Bombus Lapidarius, can be translated as: a bee carved in stone. It happens that the stone bee also nests under stones and in the walls of the cavity. But also underground, in old mice’s nests, or in birds’ nesting boxes.

For those who don’t know yet: Bees are social bees, just like honeybees. So the queen gets help from the workers. The difference is that bee colonies live in the wild. Bumblebees live in colonies of no more than three hundred individuals, and often no more than 150 very modest colonies. It starts with that queen who survived the winter and has a store of sperm in her body. Once you eat a lot of protein-rich pollen, you start looking for a nest. Workers hatch from the first eggs, and new males and queens follow later.

null Image Margot Holtmann

Statue of Margot Holtmann

You can say: the bee is an attribute of the city, due to its association with the stone. But no, the stone bee is a powerful kite that also flies in strong winds, as I read in the standard work Dutch bee† It is abundant in open landscapes.

Bumblebees have a relatively short tongue. This affects the type of flower from which you can get nectar: ​​flowers with short flower tubes, not flowers with deep sepals. White clover is a favourite. I can set this preference myself for spherical compounds and screen flowers. I saw stone bees in great pennies, on tusk grass, on triangular leaves, on loose ground, on islands …

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So come back. In half an hour’s walk: common sashimi bee, queen bee, meadow bee, red brown bee, common wasp. Gliding too. No pretentious stone. I think the queens are busy now with a nest. The first workers will appear soon. The balcony is ready again.

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