Edie Joley for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust describes some typical beewalks undertaken in Calderdale recently. There are future events arranged for 29th June: beewalks at Manor Heath Park, and 1st August: beewalk in Shibden. Look for details on our Calendar

7th May All Abuzz in Tod – a Bumblebee Hunt around Todmorden

Monsoon weather, but a good turnout for the first part of the day which was a bumblebee identification workshop from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s Dr Richard Comont.

The beewalk in the afternoon wasn’t so well attended – understandably given the weather, but a small troupe of hardy souls ventured onto the moorland edge to walk to the Stannally Stones to look for Bilberry Bumblebee. Plenty of bilberry, all in flower, so a good place to look for bumblebees on a sunny day.

Although we didn’t spot the target species (seen here a few years ago), we did see six of the commoner species of bumblebee despite the rather soggy vegetation.

Species seen:
Red tailed bumblebee
Early bumblebee
Buff tailed bumblebee
White tailed bumblebee
Garden bumblebee
Common Carder bumblebee

28th May Bumblebee Hunt around Cromwell Bottom

Another soggy day, but four adults and three children braved the rain to join us in a hunt for bumblebees at Cromwell Bottom. Robin the warden showed us around this brilliant site, concentrating on the wildflower meadow, which was full of flowers suitable for bumblebees (had it been sunny).

In the meadow, after spotting lots of slugs to the delight of the children, we eventually saw a lone Common Carder bumblebee sheltering from the rain under a vetch flower. She was a sorry sight!

Later on the walk, we went past one of the many ponds on the site (excellent for amphibians and dragonflies) and, in a brief almost sunny five minutes we spotted three bumblebees visiting the yellow flag irises. It was too difficult to identify them as they zoomed about, but at least we saw them.

Species seen:
Common Carder bumblebee
At least one other species.

13th June Bumblebee Hunt in the Shibden Valley

A perfect day for spotting bees at Shibden Park. Warm, still and dry. Sadly, only two people joined me, Hugh and Betony for a tour around the park and environs. However, lots of bees were seen. There is some very good bee-friendly planting in Shibden Park. The areas of comfrey, geraniums, astilbe, nepeta, campanula and other garden plants were particularly a-buzz. There were also some areas of wilder planting with knapweed and other plants good for bees that will flower later in the summer. This kind of all-season planting (typical of gardens) is very good for bumblebees as it provides flowers from early until late in the season. It was very obvious that all of the bumblebees (and other pollinating insects such as hoverflies) were concentrated on the flowering patches with very few seen anywhere else in the park. The areas of grass left to mature and seed, although poor for bees as there were few flowers, will probably be good for grassland butterflies later in the summer. We can check this on the next Shibden walk on 1st August.

At this point in the summer it can be more complicated to identify bumblebees as there are an abundance of males and the workers are often faded making them look very different to their photos in the ID books. However, we were able to catch a good number to have a closer look and managed to distinguish five species of bumblebee and one species of cuckoo bee.

Species seen:
Early bumblebee (males and females) – many
Tree bumblebee (males and females) – many
Red tailed bumblebee (males) – a few
Buff/white tailed bumblebee (males and females) – a few
Common carder bumblebee – one new queen
Vestal cuckoo bee – several

Garden bumblebee – seems scarce this year