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UK Nature  > Bees  > Bombus hypnorum

Scientific Name:   Bombus hypnorum
Common Name:   Tree Bumble Bee

Bombus hypnorum, more commonly known as the Tree Bumble Bee, is a species of bumble bee that is common on the European continent and parts of Asia. It has recently spread to United Kingdom and Iceland. Bombus hypnorum has a short proboscis and a rounded head. The thorax is usually of a uniformly ginger colour (but examples with a darker, or even black thorax occur), the abdomen is black haired and the tail always white. The bumblebee was first observed in the UK on 17 July 2001, close to the village of Landford in Wiltshire, and has since been spreading widely.

It often lives near human settlements and prefers to build its nest above ground and often inhabits bird boxes. The nest is quite large, 150 workers or more (according to some authorities up to 400). The species is a pollen storer, i.e. it stores pollen in separate cells and feeds each larva individually, instead of storing the pollen directly in the larval cells. It visits an enormous range of flowering plants such as Rhododendron, cherry, grape hyacinth and, in the north, Vaccinium. It is an important visitor to Raspberry (Rubus idaeus) and Bramble (Rubus fruticosus agg.).

The species has a short breeding cycle, with queens emerging early, usually in March. The first cycle is completed from mid-May to early July (depending on the season). A smaller second generation is produced in late summer in favourable years. It is generally quite docile but if disturbed can defend its nest pro-actively and it has been known to sting people who it perceives as a threat.
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