The weather is getting better and more and more flowers are blossoming. For the bumblebees this means: work, work, work! Some bumblebee species, such as the common carder bee, can drink from many different types of flowers with their long tongues. However, other bumblebee species have a short tongue and are therefore limited to the shallow flowers.
Because species differ from each other, it also differs which flowers can be found on their wish list. Unfortunately, the Dutch landscape has changed over the past 50 years and it no longer meets the wish lists of many of our bumblebees. As a result, many species are rapidly declining in number.
By Tjomme Fernhout.
Last weekend we (researchers from Naturalis, EIS Knowledge Center for Insects and youth from the Youth Association for Nature and Environmental Studies) on the island of Tiengemeten, south of Zuid-Beijerland. This is a special island because it still meets the wish list of some rare bumblebees! The island is full of flowers because of the uncut fields. This seems, unfortunately, the only place in our country where there is room left for this kind of management, due to the pressure to produce crops on a large scale, quickly and in large quantities. On this island we saw Bombus veteranus and the large carder bee - Bombus muscorum - (also known as the teddy bear among the bumblebees), two species that could still be seen 50 years ago in the whole country.
Large carder bee (Bombus muscuorum)
By Jan van Leeuwen
For three days we have been running after the bumblebees (bumblebees are faster than you might think) hoping to learn more about which flowers they choose and where they build their nests. In this way we helped busy researchers to accurately determine all the preferences of the bumblebees and hopefully we find ways to make the Dutch landscape more suitable for these beautiful and useful animals!