Gypsy Cuckoo Bumblebee (Bombus Bohemicus)

The Bombus Bohemicus, also known as the Gypsy Cuckoo Bumblebee, is a fairly common species in the north of the United Kingdom. Nowadays, their population is decreasing in England and Wales but there are still many buzzing around Ireland (particularly in the east) and the most northern parts of Scotland. 

As is usual for the cuckoo complex, they do not display pollen baskets since they never collect any pollen for their young. Not to mention the fact that there is no worker caste (again, a normal trait for the cuckoo bumblebee species). 

Instead of building their own nests, they will infiltrate one made and maintained by the White-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lucorum), Cryptic bumblebee (Bombus cryptarum) or the Northern white-tailed bumblebee (Bombus magnus)

The females of the Bombus Bohemicus display a wide yellow collar and extremely faint yellow hairs on the abdomen to the thorax meeting place. They sport a white tail that sits neatly under the thin yellow patches.

Similarly, the males’ markings are pretty much the same except they tend to have more obvious yellow hairs on their thorax. As always, the males are smaller than the females but, surprisingly, the Gypsy cuckoo bumblebee males are fluffier!

This species resembles the Southern cuckoo bumblebee (Bombus vestalis). However, the Southern cuckoo’s yellow patches stretch further than those on the Gypsy cuckoo bumblebee (Bombus bohemicus). So, to be completely accurate when identifying individuals, the genital capsule on the males must be checked. Although, this will not help if you are looking at the females of course! In the case, you will need to have a gander at the pitting. The Southern cuckoo bumblebee’s pitting is heavy and does not shine whatsoever, whereas on the Gypsy cuckoo bumblebee (Bombus bohemicus) it is brilliantly shiny and smooth.