The Common Carder Bee

The Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum) feeding on a Dandelion (Taraxacum agg.)

The Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum) feeding on a Dandelion (Taraxacum agg.) – Oisín Duffy

The Common Carder Bee (Bombus Pascuorum) is one of our most common bumblebee species in Ireland. The species is quite distinctive and once it is seen, it cannot really be forgotten. It’s also very luck that it does not have many confusion species, just one in Ireland really and that is The Moss Carder Bee (Bombus muscorum) which is another very distinctive species which once you learn the difference, there shouldn’t be too much difficulty in telling them apart (I’ll talk about that below).

Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum) - Notice the ginger thorax, coupled with black bands on the abdomen and white hairs flanking the thorax. - Oisín Duffy

Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum) – Notice the ginger thorax, coupled with black bands on the abdomen and white hairs flanking the thorax. – Oisín Duffy

As I mentioned above, the species is common and widespread throughout the country and is found in a wide range of habitats, flower-rich meadows, parklands, wasteground, urban areas and in gardens also. The common Carder Bee breaks away from all the rest of bumblebees that I’ve written about so far, the main identification feature doesn’t exactly rely on counting stripes or a precise white/red/buff tail colour, in this case the first thing you’ll notice is the ginger thorax. The next thing to looks for are black hairs on the abdomen, this can sometimes appear as a band of black hairs. The tail of the species is generally also a gingery colour or tone similar to the thorax. The species can be variable and seems to be one of the species that changes the most from the wear and tear of life (in Autumn I regularly come across grey coloured common carder bee) so fading might cause confusion later in the year, but should not cause too many problems earlier in the year.

Notice the black hairs on the abdomen and the ginger tail colour (similar in colour to the thorax).

Notice the black hairs on the abdomen and the ginger tail colour (similar in colour to the thorax). – Oisín Duffy

Bombus pascuorum showing a slight wear and fading, which can change the appearance of the species. - Oisín Duffy

Bombus pascuorum showing a slight wear and fading, which can change the appearance of the species. – Oisín Duffy

The other identification feature also helps with distinguishing it from it the moss carder bee are the white fringe of hairs which flank the ginger thorax. The moss carder bee has blond hair which flank it’s ginger thorax, the species does not have the black hairs on the abdomen which are present on the common carder bee, this give the moss carder bee a much more blond appearance. Other than this, in Ireland the moss carder bee is generally found in more coastal locations and species rich grassland.

The moss carder bee (Bombus Muscorum) showing a ginger thorax with blond hairs flanking. - Oisín Duffy

The moss carder bee (Bombus Muscorum) showing a ginger thorax with blond hairs flanking. – Oisín Duffy

If you come to Ireland during the peak bumblebee season, you are bound to see the common carder bee (Bombus pascuorum). It’s beautiful and distinctive and common and widespread to boot, what more could you ask for in a bumblebee.
If anyone out there has any questions or suggestion regarding this piece or maybe regarding future pieces, feel free to get in touch through twitter @OshDuffy. If you enjoy posts and especially images of plants and pollinators, then be sure to follow me on twitter also. Also feel free to check out my own personal blog which has concise versions my Bumblebee ID posts Oisin Duffy Nature Notes.

 

Bombus pascuorum feeding on Buddleja and really getting stuck in by the looks of it! - Oisín Duffy

Bombus pascuorum feeding on Buddleja and really getting stuck in by the looks of it! – Oisín Duffy

 

 

 

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