Is this friendly bee a Short Haired Bumblebee?

We are temporarily living in Woolwich, not far from the ferry that crosses the River Thames.  Whilst out photographing one summer afternoon, we spotted some rough ground full of overgrown wild shrubs smothered with bees.  Lots of competition to get the nectar and sometimes squabbles over one flower head, but amidst the buzz, one very large bee who seemed to be taking its time.  No rush, in fact at one point we though it had just dozed off.  Quite content for us to point and shoot for over half an hour, we took liberties to get closer and closer and eventually got this lovely shot.

But what stood out the most with this bee was the size and laid back attitude, long legs with barbed feet and inquisitive looks.

A few months later, whilst browsing through the RSPB website articles and other local news, found a website, which detailed about a bee that had apparently disappeared dramatically in 1988 and declared extinct in 2000.  Could this be our bee?  The bee was in Sweden and it was decided that queens from there should be taken back to England in 2013, released near Dungeness in Kent after quarantine, and slowly replenish the 850 hectares of established wildflower being cultivated there.

There are some very interesting videos on the web about this Shorted Haired Bumblebee reintroduction and it is hoped they will settle and find their way along the coast.  Could we have one in Woolwich – I do hope so! ♥


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