Viola Stirling’s Nature Diary: 26 Aug 1919

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.