Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Red-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius)

I adore happy accidents. Without a macro lens on me, I knew I'd struggle to get a decent shot of this gorgeous Red-tailed Bumblebee. But what I hadn't bargained on as I essentially missed the shot I was after (the bee in flight) was this image – which has not been cropped in any way – of the rotund bee and its tiny, seemingly wholly inadequate legs disappearing out of the frame with such charm. The Red-tailed Bumblebee is a common visitor in many gardens, but this was my first of the spring. This one was harmless enough, but in the vicinity of its nest the Red-tailed is somewhat more agressive than most other species of bumblebee and is quite happy to sting any intruder. It's entirely black, except for the red tail, the intensity of which varies from striking deep red through to orange. The colony remains rather small and rarely ever comprises more than 300 individuals. Normally the nest is built underground, though sometimes in openings in walls, birds nests or nesting boxes. The Red-tailed Bumblebee visits well over 200 species of flowers, including many exotic garden species and is also known as the Stone Bumblebee or Large Red Bumblebee. 

Canon 1Ds MkII, 1/160 sec, f/2.8, 70mm at ISO 400



  1. Lovely images once again......and one of my favourite subjects.

    Speaking up for the red tailed bumble bee, I personally, have never found them to be aggressive. They frequent my garden each year and seem to just get about their business.
    Perhaps I have been lucky....or perhaps they realise I am neither a threat or afraid of them.......

    As always your images show the beauty of our wildlife.......

  2. Many thanks for your comments Tim, sorry it's took so long to reply but I have been quite busy of late. The feeling of course is mutual. I'm very impressed with your articles and your exactly right about this beautiful shot you've captured, as if by chance! Some of the best shots can be completely unintentional.