Bombus humilis (Brown-banded Carder Bee)
A carder bee that closely resembles B. muscorum, and paler examples of B. pascuorum. The top of the thorax has a deep chestnut hair pile in fresh indivduals which usually contrasts strongly with the whitish pile on the sides of the thorax. The chestnut usually extends over the entire scutellum area and to the back of the head, without the halo of paler hairs seen in muscorum. Scattered black hairs are usually present among the chestnut ones above the wingbases (never present in muscorum) and occasionally more widely over the thorax. But these can be absent in some individuals.

The abdomen is pale buff but with a chestnut band across tergite 2 and sometimes tergite 3. This band is usually as dark as the hairs on top of the thorax (best seen by viewing the bee from the side) and does not disappear with angle of view.. But beware as fresh muscorum can have a yellow band across tergite 2 and often ends up being misidentified as humilis. Black hairs are never present on the abdomen except for the apical tergite (black hairs are nearly always discernible across all tergites in pascuorum).

The queens have a similar size and fluffiness to pascuorum, averaging smaller and fluffier than muscorum queens. Males can be confirmed using genitalia but are reasonably distinct when fresh.

Hibernated queens emerge relatively late (May) and tend to forage on plants such as White Dead-nettle, Kidney Vetch and everlasting-peas. Workers like legumes (especially clovers, bird's-foot-trefoils and vetches); also lamiates (Wild Basil, woundworts and Black Horehound), composites (e.g. knapweeds, Catsear and oxtongues) and scabiouses. Nesting usually occurs at the base of dense vegetation in sunny locations.

Assorted habitats are used including heathland, chalk downland, brownfield, coastal levels, coastal dunes/shingle and occasionally arable settings, Sites tend to be characterised by large and well-connected flowery habitat mosaics with lots of late-peaking flowers. At many sites it can still be common into September..

B. humilis used to be widespread in lowland Britain but declined substantially during the 20th century. It is now showing a local recovery in some areas and is fairly common in SW England, Kent and South Wales.

This is a Section 41 conservation priority species subject of a JNCC data sheet:
jncc.defra.gov.uk/_speciespages/153.pdf

More information van be obtained from Buglife: www.buglife.org.uk/sites/default/files/Shrill%20and%20Bro...

and Hymettus:
hymettus.org.uk/downloads/Cornwall Bombus survey08.pdf.

BWARS account:
www.bwars.com/index.php?q=bee/apidae/bombus-humilis.
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