Common Carder Bumblebee - Bombus pascuorum

Scientific Name: Bombus pascuorum.

English Name: Common Carder Bumblebee.

French Name: Le Bourdon des champs.

5 Key Characters:
  • tawny coat ranging in colour from foxy orange to pale ginger brown with variable amounts of black.
  • coat often thin and scruffy.
  • distinct black hairs among the ginger thorax hairs and black hairs on the abdomen.
  • a medium sized bumblebee.
  • round abdomen.
Lookalikes: Brown-banded Carder Bumblebee B. humilis and Moss Carder Bumblebee B. muscorum, neither of which have long black hairs on the hind feet or on the abdomen. B. pascuorum emerges before the others so prior to mid-April there should not be any confusion. B. humilis and B. pascuorum are very alike in behaviour and in open dry flowery grassland, both can be common. However, B. humilis and B. muscorum are restricted to this type of habitat (and B. muscorum is less common), whereas B. pascuorum can be found everywhere. If you find a bumblebee that looks like this in woodland it will almost certainly be B. pascuorum. Neither B. humilis nor B. pascuorum are particularly bothered by being approached (unlike the third lookalike, B. muscorum, which will fly off before you can get very close).

Habitat: Gardens, urban wasteland, woodland edges, suburban parks. Nests on or just under the ground, and in old bird's nests. A highly adaptable forager., but particularly fond of legume and dead nettle flowers and will also visit foxgloves regularly.

Flight Period: One of the earliest bumblebees to emerge in the spring, with nest seeking queens visible from March, and one of the last bumblebees to disappear in the autumn. Flies with wings beating very fast (130 - 250 times a second, which is 4 - 6 times faster than a dragonfly).

Status: Common and one of the few bumblebee species that is thriving.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:

Photographs numbered from left to right and top to bottom. 1-2 On White Deadnettle Lamium album in April.

Foraging on lavender (Buff/White-tailed Bumble Bee B. terrestris/lucorum on right).

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