A little video of the Early Bumblebee (Bombus pratorum) preening:
As implied by its common name, this little bumblebee is often one of the earliest to emerge from winter hibernation. I have watched them feed all around my garden since early spring, often dangling under flowers to get a drop of nectar.
Starting with the Pulmonaria, I have also seen it feeding on the Blueberries, the Acer and the Rosemary. Currently the Cotoneaster is favourite and later in the year I would expect to see it on the Raspberries (Autumn variety in my garden) and the Linaria. It doesn't appear to be very caring where it gets it's pollen and nectar.
It's a small bee, with queens no bigger than a Buff-tailed worker bee and the Early workers are just a bundle of fluff. You can easily see the yellow band on the top of the thorax but the abdominal stripe is often less distinct. The "red" tail is more difficult, quite pale with variations in colouring and fading with age, but definitely not "white" or "buff". The males are much more colourful with bright yellow faces.
This one appears to have done a lot of work (or maybe just a lot of preening) - she's going bald!
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