Bee No 1: The Garden Bumble Bee, Bombus hortorum.

More about my bee from the UK and the first of my 16 subjects, which travelled back in my pencil case and survived almost intact. These are the much loved, archetypal stripy bees which we see in the UK , the ones which usually spring to mind when thinking about a picture book idea of a Bumble Bee.

There are 3 very similar bumble bees, the B. hortorum, B. lucorum the white tailed Bumble Bee and B. terrestris the buff tailed Bumble Bee.

3 bees

From the British Beekeepers’ Association site, is part of Gillian Lye’s nice explanatory guide, from a UK bumble bee nest survey.
See more
here The facts:

CLASS: Insecta or Hexapoda. Insects, as the name hexapoda suggests, animals that have six legs
ORDER: Hymenoptera, Bees, wasps, ants and sawflies.
SUPERFAMILY: Apoidea. Bees and some wasps.
FAMILY: Apidae. Bees.
GENUS: Bombus. Bumblebees
SPECIES: Bombus hortorum

The Garden Bee, sometimes delightfully classified as “Megabombus” is a European bee and described as “rather scruffy” with quite long hair. It has a long head and the longest tongue of all European Bumble Bees allowing it to reach those parts of flowers which other bees cannot reach.
It likes red clover, cowslips, foxglove, vetches and lavender.
My information comes from the really excellent and readable which I quoted from in an earlier post.

Here is another snippet

(Bombus Hortorum).. “have a reputation for nesting in “unsuitable” places such as coat pockets, buckets and inside lawnmowers, their preferred nest sites are usually on or just below ground. They are fairly placid bees and do not have large nests, so if it is possible, it is best to leave them where they are. If you must move the nest, for example, if it is inside a lawnmower, then do so late in the evening when all the bees have returned. Get as much of the nest material as you can into a small box with an entrance hole of about 1 cm and leave it inside as close to the original spot as possible. If it is inside a shed or building then any kind of container will do. If it has to be moved outdoors then the container must be weatherproof and placed in a south-facing sheltered spot.”


Bee number 1. The Garden Bee Bombus hortorum Some final sketches for the pose,

bee sketches final hortorus sm

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  1. Isn't this a lovely, gentle post?

    Isn't the word 'Bombus' wonderful?

    Isn't that description of where these bees nest entrancing?


  2. Hi. I'm from Portugal and I'm following your blog for a longtime. I'm sorry I didn't leave any comment sooner.

    I love your drawings and paintings.

    Your bees are lovelly.
    It would be interesting to see the Queen bee, the male, the worker, etc.

  3. Bombus hortorum – what an awesome latin name! And thanks for sharing some of the natural history information about it. Your sketches and painting are great, as usual.

  4. I do like the bee series very much. It makes me want to pick up a pencil again and give it a go.

  5. Thanks all,
    Lucy, that IS a lovley comment!The bumblebee site is really nice to read.
    Thankyou Green on the case.
    Gabrielle, we love "Bombus" and even better "Megabombus" sometimes even the Latin names are just perfect.
    Susan.. Thanks.. go to it girl!

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