Carder bees emerge early in spring and is the last bumblebee to continue flight, ceasing in November. This long season is assisted by the carder bee’s tongue, which can be 8mm in length, enabling it to reach the nectar contained within even tubular flowers, such as heather and clover, where many other species cannot reach. It commonly nests upon the ground within cavities amongst dense vegetation (such as mouse runs) or just under the soil so is vulnerable to grass cutting and its colony size is considered small to medium, containing between 60 to 200 worker bees. Only the young females hibernate, appearing again in spring as queens.
The carder bee’s name derives from the textile industry: this bee combs material together to form a cover for its nest in a technique that is similar to the way that the textile industry prepares fibres before spinning and weaving, a process known as carding!
Dispersed throughout the UK and adapted to the majority of habitats, the carder bee is found feeding wherever flowers are present. As such, it is quite probable you will spot a carder bee when visiting any of the Dynamic Dunescape sites.
Dynamic Dunescapes' maintenance of dune habitats help to provide vegetation which is used as cover by other species, enabling them to travel in safety which in turn creates cavities. Our maintenance also provides the preferred habitat for wild flowers and it is these conditions that are sought by the carder bee for nesting and feeding purposes.
The carder bee is the most common of three ginger bee species in the UK and appears fluffy without a white tail. Its colour pattern is variable depending on location, so in areas south of Scotland can feature black abdomen hairs. Size also varies with the queen being the largest at 13mm, the male at 11mm and the worker being the smallest at 10mm. Males are also distinguishable by their longer antennae.