Bumble Bee ID sketches

I have braved my freezing work room today and made some sketches of the BIG SIX British Bumble bees.

The lazy artist, that I often am, usually wants to miss out this stage of the work.
There are very nice examples of Bumble bee patterns on the internet which I could just print out.  But, when I do take the trouble, I am always glad because sketching them will help me remember the differences.

Queens,Workers and Males.  I have said before that I am not a scientific illustrator but I do like to try to get things right and one problem of drawing Bumble bees is that they vary, male, to female, to worker, sometimes in colour, size and pattern.

And then there are some variations within each species.

So a reference colour chart of males and queens/workers to refer to will be a help, along with a few notes of flowers etc.

Most of this information comes from the Natural History Museum’s site and the very excellent Bumblebee.org, which I have quoted from before.

bbbees 2     bbbees1

The welcome sun glancing across my sketchbook gets to my work room at 4 pm, before that it is icy, but they have promised a change tomorrow…hurrah ..

and, should I forget these temperatures when I am struggling to keep cool in the summer, I took this photo of our icy apartment block roof this morning…

I know, it’s nothing compared with some parts of both the USA and the UK but it’s still hellish cold..if that’s possible :)..

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  1. I love bumblebees! We have some different ones here from you but they're all lovely. I'm not good at telling most of them apart, I just know how to identify one type that seems to be disappearing, Bombus terricola. Happily, they thrive in my garden, but I'm only one. Another good website is the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, Xerces.org.

  2. Hello! I have come across your blog today. Your artwork is fantastic and I love your books. I look forward to reading more about bees and bookmaking in 2010!

  3. Yes, hellish cold. Its only making my artistic cold feet worse, but its good to see someones making the best of it. Beautiful art as always!

  4. I love the bees – So glad i found your blog, Cat (aspiring scribbler :o) )

  5. I have also seen a few very good bumblebee mimic hoverflies here in Manchester, England. Obvious from the fly eyes but I have seen a few grown adults running from the common hoverflies that look slightly wasp/beeish.

  6. I did a double-take when I scrolled by the photo with your notebook. What kind of notebook are you painting in (what weight of paper) and how do you keep the pages from warping when you paint on them??? Wow!

  7. Hi all… and thank you so much for your comments.
    Jodi .. I think bees are terribly hard to tell apart. I knew nothing about them until earlier this year and even now I would have problems in the wild. Terricola is a very pretty bee! SO nice that you give them a good home!and yes Xerces is excellent.

    HI Dan,so nice of you to drop by, I will be getting round to the British Bees soon, just a bit tied up with wasps at the moment

    RG .. hope you have warmed up a bit now ( friday) but it has been really grim. .. but good excuse for doing nothing!

    Thankyou Cat: and lovely to get your comment.

    Pat: thanks, I am completely fascinated by the mimics and bee flies. Something I want to learn more about.. I like "beeish" 🙂

    Gabrielle.. hope you got my note re the sketchbook

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