Saturday, June 14, 2008


What a great name. Apparently, this is a Scottish name for bumblebees. According to SomeBeans, all bumblebees have the same first name, which is Delius. Why bees would have first names, and if so, why it would be Delius, he is a little hazy about.

Actually, it was only today that he realised that there were different species of bumblebee - until I suggested this, he thought that the different colourations were due to genetic variations similar to those causing different hair colour in humans. He is now in a bit of an existential quandary as to whether different species of bumblebees have different first names. Furthermore, we have been having an ongoing 'discussion' for many years as to whether bumblebees live in nests in burrows or in thick vegetation (my suggestion) or in chalets. Presumably something like this .

The National History Museum has an interactive British bumblebee key which I've been having fun playing with today. Of course, you need to make sure you're not trying to identify a mimic such as the bumblebee hoverfly instead. Hoverflies can generally be distinguished from the insects they mimic by the false wing edge vein (one of the few things I remember from my zoology degree).

Apparently, bumblebees are not doing too well in the UK at the moment, with three species already extinct according to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. There's a lot we can do to help, by practicing bumblebee friendly gardening. It seems that they like a more 'relaxed' style of gardening (very much in the ethos of the Inelegant Gardener). The favorite plants of the foggie-toddlers in our garden are the cardoons, which seethe with the insects in summer, but they seem to like pretty much any flower, including dahlias, snapdragons, sedum, and echinacea.

All of the bumblebees in the UK belong to the genus Bombus, (meaning 'booming') although cuckoo bumblebees used to be classified in a separate genus, Psithyrus (meaning 'murmuring'). They have an interesting lifecycle, with workers on average only living for four weeks. Their behaviour is quite complex, with communication by pheremones, which are used to pass on information, including marking which flowers have been visited, so that other bumbles can avoid them.

So, say "Hello, Delius" to the next foggie-toddler you see, and do what you can to help them.

This has been a public information announcement on behalf of the Foggie-toddlers Admiration Society.


Anonymous said...

Very good. So much information thank you - I do think that bumble bees live in chalets, like you linked too - although, perhaps slightly bigger

Anonymous said...

They are hard to identify aren't they, particularly if you're hopping from plant to plant after them.

By the way I've tagged you on my blog. I'll leave it up to you whether you wish to tag anyone else. No pressure :-)

Anonymous said...

I love foggie-toddlers! Can I join your society ;)

I loved this informative post.

HappyMouffetard said...

All applicants to the foggie-toddler society are warmly welcomed.
Foggie-toddlers - give you a buzz!