Vestal Cuckoo Bumblebee

Bombus vestalis

Vestal Cuckoo Bumblebee

profile iconCuckoo bumblebee (Bombus vestalis?) on clover, Sandy, Bedfordshire (9191753063)
by Orangeaurochs (CC BY 2.0)
1 of 2
A close up of Vestal Cuckoo Bumblebee Bombus vestalis on a flower
profile iconCuckoo bumblebee (Bombus vestalis?) on clover, Sandy, Bedfordshire (9191753063)
by Orangeaurochs (CC BY 2.0)
1 of 2
Vestal Cuckoo Bumblebee isn't an ordinary bumblebee. They don't produce large social colonies as a bumblebee normally would. Female cuckoo-bees will invade a colony of bumblebees, and if she's undetected, she'll kill the queen and take over the colony. This is a large cuckoo bee who targets the nests of buff-tailed bumblebees. However, cuckoo bees don't always succeed. Bumblebees can sting repetitively so can defend the nest, sometimes overriding invasions from parasitic bees. Females begin emerging from hibernation as early as mid-march. The adults require nectar and pollen for energy, so maybe observed on catkins, dandelions and buttercups. The males are more frequently sighted in summer, they are attracted to flowers such as thistles, brambles, knapweeds, umbellifers and lavender.
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Traits

Although these bees are parasites, they still play a key role in the surrounding ecosystem.
They will still do some pollination.

Appearance

Adults: Females are around 1.5cm. Females have a ginger-yellow collar, a black body, with yellow and whitetails. Males are similar, but their hair is shorter. Likewise, they possess additional yellow hairs where the thorax terminates. Tip: Cuckoo bees have lost their pollen baskets through evolution. This is handy when trying to identify bumblebees!

Activity

Diurnal

Personality

Order

Hymenoptera

Family

Apidae

Metamorphosis

Complete

Distribution

Throughout Europe

Biological treatment

It's not suggested to treat gardens for bees. Help bees by planting pollinator-friendly flowers or by reducing the use of harmful chemicals in the garden.

Chemical treatment

Avoid spraying flowering plants wherever possible. Try to tolerate these fuzzy friends if you can!

Attracts this pest

Both males and females will do some foraging, but pollination levels are much lower when compared to Honey Bees. They enjoy the nectar of common garden weeds, Umbillifers, knapweeds and thistles.
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Knowledge and advice

Search our ever-growing knowledge base to find plants and information. Find out about pests and diseases you should be keeping an eye out for. Watch How to videos or follow step by step guides for tasks in the garden. Free download for your phone or tablet.
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