The next entry in Viola’s nature journal continues her exploration of the land near Touch. We are introduced to Menzies, who we presume is a worker at the Gargunnock Estate, and Viola describes her experience of exploring a ‘fogy bees’ nest.
The entry is as follows with a transcript at the bottom of the page:
If you’re wondering what type of bee a ‘fogy bee’ is, Viola’s excellent description gives us the answer. She describes fogy bees as having ‘a black head and thorax and yellow tail’ whilst the queen is ‘rather larger’ with ‘a rich browny tail’.
The ‘fogy bee’ that Viola describes matches the description of the Red Tailed Bumblebee (bombus lapidarius). The Queen and worker bees are very distinctive and recognisable due their black head, black body and dark red tail. Males look very similar but can have yellow bands and lighter coloured tails.
Red tailed bumblebees are one of our more common bees and are frequent visitors to gardens. Its latin name ‘bombus lapidarius’, meaning ‘booming’ and ‘stone’, provides a good description for where they like to nest. They prefer to nest at the base of stone dykes and or under stones. They can also nest in old mossy rodent’s nests, which Viola also confirms.
The most impressive thing about this entry is that Viola didn’t receive any stings when she pulled out the comb from inside the nest!
More information about red-tailed bumblebees can be found here:
Transcript: Page 2
Aug 26. 1919 The Avenue Touch 4 p.m. Near Lilac Bush
There was a Fogy Bee’s Nest near here. Menzies
showed it to me about July 28 I do not know
how long they were here before that. They
have just flown off. I came here one day
and took out all the comb hoping for some honey
and found nothing but young bees in the
cells. When I put the comb back they all crowded
on to it in great excitement. Just before this the Queen
had flown off in a rage at the loss of
her comb. They seem to care very little
about her for none followed her. She came
back soon after and next day they
were all quite happy. The Fogy Bee is a
small bee with a black head and thorax and
yellow tail. The Queen is rather larger and
has a rich bowny tail. the nest is a hollow
in the ground lined and roofed with moss.
It is called a Fogy bee because it uses “Fog”
or moss for its nest.