Red-shanked Carder Bee Bombus ruderarius
This bumblebee is most probably the Red-shanked Carder Bee. We are not completely sure though, for this is not the easiest bumblebee species to identify. The problem is that the colouring is variable and quickly faints in older animals. Normally the entire bee is black, except for the tail, which is a dirty kind of red. So it sometimes does look like the Red-tailed Bumblebee, but the tail hairs are never bright and the animal is much smaller. Variations however may show yellow bands on the thorax. These are of a very indistinct white yellow colour and often make the animal look like many other species, especially the worn-out individuals. The queen is only 16 to 18 mm long, reaching a wingspan of some 32 mm. The workers and the drones are a bit smaller. Thus the species is about the same size as the well-known Common Carder Bee. States of the Red-shanked Carder Bee are rather small. Most contain 50 or up to 100 individuals. Queens are late starters. Even though sometimes seen in the second half of April, most become active in May. The species makes its own nest, usually above the earth's surface in old patches of dead grass or mosses. Not to be found in mountain areas as it prefers flat territories. We are not sure about the status of this species in Britain, but we found on the web that it is a common species in the south of England and a rather rare species in Western Scotland.