Okay, now I know that spring is starting to ramp up. It was 60 degrees today, a full sun in a hazy sky and so warm I didn't need a coat. I had a bazillion other things to do, but by 2:30 pm I knew I HAD to go back to my favorite heather patch to look for more bumblebees.
Well, yesterday's Red-Butt Queen didn't show up. That was the bad news. The really great news is that a second species of just-emerging bumblebee queens was there: Bombus vosnesenkii. They are also called the Yellow-faced Bumblebees (for fairly obvious reasons)!
I love these queens. They are huge, as bumblebees go. They are big black bumblebees, with a distinctive thin yellow stripe on the lower abdomen, yellow shoulders and a fuzzy yellow face between black compound eyes. Their temperament is usually pretty mellow and this queen allowed me to get right up next to her, so I could actually get a good look at her. I watched her for ten minutes.
So keep your eye out for a likely patch of heather on a sunny, south-facing slope. You never know what you might find.
"The Natural History of Bumblebees" by Carol Kearns and James Thomson
"Humblebee Bumblebee" by Brian Griffin