First Queens in Mayo
March 8 – International Women’s Day – was marked here by the first flights of white-tailed and buff-tailed queens.
Thanks to two-year-old Davitt and his mum for their report of the dark Irish subspecies of the buff-tailed bee (Bombes terrestris audax) first queen out in our townland again this year. Maybe even the same huge velvety individual last seen in late October.
The stripes are barely distinguishable in low light.
By March 11 both white-tailed and the commoner – greyish-tailed- B. Terrestris forms were active, particularly favouring hybrid hellebores and yellow berberis, although there were some dandelions, willow and plenty of red dead-nettle available. The queens have been out and about from 8.00am till dusk on calm days. And by Monday 13th a whitetailed queen was actively checking out nest sites close to the berberis bush.
The larger three-striped Garden Bumblebee (Bombus hortorum) could show up any time now. (Hopefully… they were not plentiful last season, and the local nest may have finished early.)
The remaining trio of the Big Six – Common Carder, Meadow Bumble and Red-tailed – will likely not put in an appearance till April.