The common carder bee is about 1.5 cm tall, whereas the queen can be up to 1.8 cm tall. It has a yellowy or reddish brown colour and there is a grey or black stripe on its belly. It is spread over the whole of Europe and is one of the most frequent bumblebees. This is mainly due to its high adaptability to environmental conditions and the numerous plants where it can eat from. This species is one of those that can live in many different biotopes, so it can be found in forests as well as in meadows and willows, embankments and even in gardens and parks. The common carder bee readily accepts nesting boxes and being, to our advantage, very peaceful, it mostly does not even sting when we want to dare a look into the boxes.
Did you know?
A colony can comprise 60 to 150 animals and consists of worker bees, male drones and the young queens. These young queens, after they have been fertilised in summer, spend the cold season in winter quarters, from where they come out during next spring at the end of March. Before building a nest to found a new colony, they have to eat nectar in order to strengthen themselves. Abandoned caves of mice, cavities in compost, under dry foliage or moss and even nesting boxes of birds or holes in buildings are used as nests. Before starting the egg laying, the queen builds containers where the collected pollen and the eggs are put in. After few days, the grubs hatch out, eat the pollen, pupate and hatch out again after 1 to 2 weeks as bumblebees. These bumblebees are worker bees and build the nest and grow the following grubs. They are smaller than the queen. She is spending the rest of her life (until October) laying eggs. From August on, the young queens and the drones hatch out of the eggs. In autumn the colony dies after 7 months; that is the longest developing cycle of all bumblebees. The fertilised young queens spend the winter in their quarters and found new colonies in spring.
Until now, it has been proved that these bumblebees collect food from 257 wild and 21 cultivated plants. There are for example the dead-nettle, the black horehound, the white and the red clover, some vetches and even fruit trees, paprika and tomatoes. Furthermore, the common carder bee has developed a trick to get to nectar even though their proboscis is too small for some plants: they bite a small hole into the calyx and can then collect the nectar without fertilising the plant! The carder bee generally collects its food within a radius of 100 m around its nest.