Cuckoo bumblebees

Murtagh's Meadow

Cuckoo bumblebees, as their name suggests, take over the nests of ‘true’ bumblebees. The Cuckoo queen enter their host nest, and kill the existing queen. The remaining workers then rear the cuckoo’s young. The cuckoo bumbles, of which there are six species in Ireland, can be difficult enough to distinguish from true bumbles. However one distinguishing feature is the lack of a pollen basket on the back leg of the bee.

The photo below is of a forest cuckoo bumblebee.  They appear to be having a good year with sightings in Mayo and Clare in the last couple of weeks

They are probably one of the easier species to identify with their large white tails and their single yellow band.

Foest Cuckoo bumbebee Forest Cuckoo bumblebee Bombus sylvestris

Note: no pollen basket on bee on left but Garden bumblebee on right (a true bumblebee) the pollen basket is obvious.

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About Murtagh's Meadow

As an ecologist I have always had an interest in nature. I love gardening and would spend all day outdoors if I could. I also enjoy taking photographs and writing. I live in the west of Ireland with my young family.
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