Sunday, 5 July 2015

Day 245 - Insect Fest & a Charismatic Cuckoo Bee

The Hissing Cockroach (thanks @ferascience)
Hey everyone, well today was a brilliant day! There was a great nature event on in York, which is a nice change as a lot of them are a lot further away from me usually. This one was pretty good too as I knew there were going to be a few people there I knew already and some people I was hoping to meet as I'm in touch with them via twitter.

Stick Insect - half the length of my dad`s forearm!
The event was the Insect Festival organised by the Royal Entomological Society, a pretty good society for insects that's been around since 1833 and has a pretty impressive membership list including Charles Darwin! I'd have loved to have signed up as a member but apparently you need to be 18! :`(

Well the fair was great. There were loads of people there I knew like the Friends of Rawcliffe Meadows, where I went on a great Tansy Beetle Talk by Dr Geoff Oxford, who was also there with the British Arachnological Society. I learnt how to tell male and female spiders apart which is really useful. I did sign up to be a Tansy Beetle Champion and I've got a Tansy plant now in Dad's green house that I'm growing to help out.

I also met people like @insectweek @BC_Yorkshire @Buzz_dont_tweet who I know from twitter and are really supportive of my blog, thanks all :-)

Well from the first pics you can see there were lots of interesting insects to see. The Hissing Cockroach was fun, but a bit too scary for me to handle (but thanks to the folks @FeraScience for showing me this one so I could get photos) and the Amateur Entomological Society (@amentsoc)  for showing me the huge stick insect - also a bit scary as it was almost the size of my arm!

Gypsy Cuckoo Bumblebee (Bombus Bohemicus)
The bit that I'll focus on today though was the bit of a nature hunting challenge from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust - I had to go out in the the York Museum Gardens, photograph it and identify it to win a cake! Well we headed out to the garden and soon saw a border that looked promising. There was a big bee there that caught my eye and I started to get some shots. I was given a bit of help though from one of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust people who happened to be at the same border. It turned out that this bee isn't very common - it is a Gypsy Cuckoo Bumblebee. So here's some facts:

  • Cuckoo Bumblebee females emerge from hibernation later in spring or early summer but after other bumblebee`s queens have established their nests.
It spent quite a while feeding.
  • They only have to look after themselves. They fly around getting food but will then rest in the sun until they need to eat again.
  • They get their name from their habit of taking over the nests of other bumblebees.
  • They do this by finding a nest, probably by smell, and then have two strategies. They may go straight in and sting the queen to death then lay their eggs which the other bees in the nest then look after.
  • Sometimes they may hide in the nest long enough to smell like the other bees then lay their eggs. The other bees then look after the Cuckoo Bumblebees but as they will only look after themselves when they are adults, this weakens the colony.
Very handy to photograph.
  • The Cuckoo bumblebees have a harder body than other bumblebees which helps them when they attack queens. 
  • They don't have pollen bags and are a little less hairy than other bumblebees.
  • While they are not a very common bumblebee they are quite widespread in the UK though less common in the South East. You won't find them in the Scilly or Shetland Isles.
So, quite an interesting little find! And Mum really enjoyed the cake I won! If you want to find out a little more about them try these links:

Hope you enjoyed,


1 comment:

  1. Love that shot of the stick insect - so cool! - Tasha