This week has been a little chilly with the polar plume bringing a brief taste of winter back to Moidart. Snow on the top of Ben Resipole, chilly nights and occasional snow flurries. Not a great time to be a newly emerged butterfly or bee, unless that is you're lucky enough to be buzzing around Mingarry Lodges.
We found one little bee stranding in a waste paper basket on Tuesday evening looking a little sorry for itself. Luckily we keep a supply of honey especially for such needy bees so we put a spot in a pot along with some plant cover and gave the bee a helping hand over night. We would normally leave the patient in a shed or greenhouse to recouperate in its own time, though as it was such a cold evening we kept it in the house overnight.
This gave us a good opportunity to try and identify it in the morning. The Natural History museum has a great interactive key to identify bumble bees, so luckily this was quite an easy job. You simply position the colour bands on to the simplified bee on the website and you are given the identification. So it turns out that our little bumble bee was a queen Bombus pratorum, the early bumble bee. Widespread across Britain, emerging in early spring and nesting particulary early in the year. Colonies are small and the bee is relatively mild tempered when disturbed.
The bee flew off shortly after being photographed and is hopefully enjoying the rapidly improving weather.