"The introduction of Bombus terrestris in New Zealand is one of the many inexcusable blunders of Acclimatisation Societies which could have been easily avoided by first consulting those versed in the life histories of humble bees and their relative value as clover fertilisers," wrote Mr. W. W. Smith in 1894. "The yellowbanded bee (Bombus terrestris) does not visit the flowers of red clover in a legitimate way, and so bring about cross fertilisation, but always makes a hole near the base of the flower and sucks the nectar through it. Lovers of many favourite flowers are aware of the destructive habit of the yellow-banded bee in biting holes at the base of tube flowers, thereby disfiguring them. Hyacinths, Solomon's Seal, Columbines, Dielytra and Delphiniums are familiar examples. To produce the perfect, fertilisation of red clover an insect must possess a proboscis or tongue 10 to 12 millimetres long" - the Bombus subterraneous, June 2011. It nests underground.
Otago Witness, 24 September 1891, Page
Dear Dot, I have not seen any bumble bees yet. Last year we saw the first one on the 10th of August. I am glad there are none, as they eat off the tops of the flowers to get the honey and kill the honey bees. There seem to be very few about this part of the country. Yours truly, Bobbie, Fairlie Creek, September 14.
Otago Witness 25 September 1890, Page 22
F R. G., Fairlie Creek, writes: - I saw the first bumble bee in this district on Saturday, 13th inst..
Mr H. Watts, Maungatua, writes as follows:— Whilst sowing oats in the 28th August I noticed a humble bee, the first one I had seen this spring. The specimens of flowers on which the humble bee have been observed are too numerous to particularise, but I have noticed that, the wallflower receives great attention from the insect. I have never noticed the bee on the red clover, but I have noticed that the humble bees invariably bite a hole in the Columbine, and indeed in any flower whose nectar is difficult of access by the mouth of the corolla.
Otago Witness 11 January 1905, Page 7
The bumble bees have completely ruined the bean crop in that Greytown district. The bees attack the flowers, piercing, holes through the bloom and killing the bean.
Otago Daily Times 22 December 1893, Page 5
My strawberry plants this year had a fine show of blossom and promised a good crop, but when in bloom they were simply covered with bumble bees, which seemed to me to be injuring the blossom. Anyway, the flowers withered away, producing no fruit. But some strawberry plants I have in a colder situation came later into flower when there were no bumble bees about (these bees, were in swarms here for a few weeks and then almost disappeared),—and have produced, a good crop of fruit. Ngapara, December 17. Rober Paulin
Distribution. Today there are introduced four species of bumblebees in the South Island including Bombus subterraneous. (We have no native species). After an initial boom, the B. sub population decreased, then stabilised, eventually settling down in the tussocky landscapes of Mackenzie Country and North Otago – areas rich in the red clover and viper’s bugloss (Echium vulgare) favoured by the bees. The Bombus subterraneous were declared extinct in the UK in 2000, as they were last seen in 1988. Exporting back to England Montgomery Red - Monty
Humblebee was the word Charles Darwin used when he wrote The Origin Of Species but since then its name has changed to bumblebee. So there is no difference, just a different spelling.
A buff tailed Bombus terrestris on the wing at a Kaponga, 2 Sept. 2011, Timaru. Kaponga is one of the most well known and widely grown modern NZ red rhododendrons, usually the first to flower in early Sept.
Timaru Herald, 4 February 1881, Page 2
Humble Bees.— Out of a consignment of eighteen humble bees to Mrs H. Belfield, of Timaru, shipped by the steamer John Elder to Melbourne, and transhipped thence by the Arawata to the Bluff, two wore found to be alive when the boxes were opened on their arrival here yesterday. A greater portion would have reached here safely were it not for the rough usage they received on their journey from the Bluff.
Star 5 February 1878, Page 2
Mr Mellish stated that his sister (Mrs Belfield, of Timaru) took a good deal of interest in the Acclimatisation Society's proceedings, and that she was about to introduce a consignment of humble bees into New Zealand, in the packing of these in their torpid condition, Mr Frank Buckland, of the Field, Mr Smith, of the British Museum, and Mr Neighbour had promised to lend every assistance, and he (Mr Mellish) had no doubt that if they received proper care on the passage out they would arrive in good condition.
Star 5 February 1878, Page 2 Shipping
Bluff, Feb. 4. The Arawata left Melbourne Jan. 30, with 53 saloon and 30 steerage passengers, and 565 tons of cargo, for all ports. Arrived at 10 o'clock last night, and sails at 4 pm for Dunedin. Passengers for Lyttelton: and Mrs Belfield, Mr and Mrs Trent, Misses Layard and Hoey, Mrs and Miss Hoey, Mr Rooke six in steerage, and 180 tons of cargo.
Timaru Herald, 7 February 1881, Page 2
Humble Bees. — The two queens the survivors of a shipment of eighteen consigned to Mrs Belfield, were turned out on Mr Bristol's farm on Saturday morning. They were, strong and healthy, and flew away briskly against the wind. Being liberated amidst clover fields, there is every chance of their doing well. Some years ago the present Premier of New Zealand attempted the introduction of this useful insect, but unsuccessfully; the last of the creatures dying when within about ten day's sail of our coast. Not being aware of any successful attempt at their acclimatisation being made heretofore, we believe that the pair of queens set free on Saturday have the honor to be the first of their kind in this country. The thanks of farmers are specially due to the lady, who, when in England about three years ago, saw Mr Neighbour (a somewhat celebrated apiarian at home) on the subject of sending humble bees to New Zealand. Mr. [George] Neighbour, took up the matter con amore, and promised when opportunity offered to send out a consignment, at the same time pointing out the risk attending such a shipment. That gentleman spared neither trouble nor expense in endeavoring to make the venture a success. In the first place he employed an agent in a district in Scotland where the bees were usually plentiful to mark down the nests in the summer, and then in the early part of the winter each nest, with its queen, was carefully dug out and placed separately in a nest of moss in a box for export. Being in a state of torpor when taken from their Scottish home, it was a sine qua non that they should continue in that state the whole of the voyage to the antipodes, consequently they were placed in the hothouse of the John Elder, one of the Orient line of steamers, on arrival at Melbourne the box was handed over to the captain of the Arawata to carry on to New Zealand. From the appearance of fully one half of the dead insects, there is every reason to believe that they were alive on arrival at the Bluff. But unfortunately a delay in their transit here took place, which was fatal to all but two. The telegram to Mrs Belfield telling, of their arrival was dated the 31st ultimo, at the same time intimating that the Arawata came in on the 26th. Yet further delay took place, and the interesting strangers did not arrive in Timaru till the 3rd inst. Mr Hislop, late of the Timaru Domain, kindly took charge of the box, and opened it out with the result above stated. To our readers who are not farmers, and who may be ignorant of the value of humble bees, we may state that their great, usefulness lies in impregnating red clover their long probosces enabling them to reach the pollen of the plant.
Ashburton Guardian, 26 February 1887, Page 4
That the humble bee is now distributed throughout the whole district — it may be interesting to note that evidence is now forthcoming of the practical results of its acclimatisation. There is before us as we write a head of red clover, taken from a paddock close to Ashburton, which is full of seed, and we are assured that it is a fair sample of the whole field. The problem of growing our own red clover seed is, therefore, satisfactorily solved, and for this we have to thank the humble bees and their original introducer — who, it we mistake not, was Mr Herbert Belfield, of Timaru. For humble as these insects are, in reality as well, as in name, they are able to accomplish what man with all his ingenuity can devise no plan to effect, viz., the fructification of the millions of fragrant blossoms which render a red clover field such a delight to the sense of smell as well as to the sense of sight, and there is no example in the whole history of acclimatisation of a more pronounced and entirely satisfactory success than that of the introduction and establishment of the humble bee in New Zealand.
Timaru Herald, 24 February 1894, Page 2
The west slope of Mount Horrible is thick with Scotch thistles, and the thistles are swarming with humble bees
Timaru Herald, 19 December 1898, Page 2
Mr W.W. Smith's collection of insects exhibited at the flower show on Saturday contained about 400 species, including the worst forms of garden and farm pests— the codlin moths, fruit-boring weevils, red-currant, apricot, peach and plum moths, and several species of flies mischievous in orchards and gardens. There were 40 odd species of agricultural and pastoral pests — moths, whose grubs feed on roots of grass, clovers and grain and mangolds ; click beetles, whose larvae are the destructive wire-worms, in some seasons destructive to root crops, and this year are destroying gorse hedges by eating the roots ; and a fine series of bot-flies, and their natural enemies. Among the beneficial insects were the humble bees which have made red clover a profitable crop in Canterbury, and 200 species of flower fertilisers — native ants, bees, flies, beetles, bugs, butterflies and moths.
Two Timaru bumblebees foraging on a yellow freesia probably the Bombus terrestris.
Another Timaru bumblebee foraging on Helleborus (Winter Rose) - Sept. 2011, M.T.
The Bombus terrestris, Timaru 28 Sept. 2011
Business Day Stuff 02/06/2009
Small populations of the short-haired bumblebee were established in the South Island of New Zealand when four species of bumblebee were introduced between 1885 and 1906 to pollinate crops of red clover. The short-haired species – known scientifically as Bombus subterraneus – survive at only a few sites here. In a recent survey of 1984 bumblebees in Canterbury and Otago, only 38 were from the short-haired species, and they are thought to be facing similar pressures to the destruction of wildflower meadows which made them extinct in Britain. New Zealand has 28 species of native bees and 13 introduced, but only two of the bumblebee species have spread widely. Researchers at Canterbury University and Lincoln University have been developing a DNA test for the short-haired bees as part of a project to better understand why they are not thriving. The bumblebee was a "keystone species" which was key to pollinating around 80 percent of important crops in Britain. "By creating the right habitat for these bumblebees, we are recreating wildflower habitat that has been lost, which will be good for butterflies, water voles and nesting birds."
Timaru Herald, 26 October 1894, Page 4
The following remarks by Mr W W Smith on the humble bees we have in New Zealand.
I believe, generally known that there are three species of humble bees now well established in New Zealand. These consist of a yellow-banded, a brown-banded and a black variety, while there is great difference in their structure and value as fertilisers of flowers. I give their history briefly. In March 1865 the Otago Acclimatisation Society liberated nine - three queens in the neighbourhood of Christchurch. Although they increased at a phenomenal rate and spread northwards to Kaikoura and southwards to Oamaru the farmers complained for years after their introduction that the red clover was not being fertilised. The cause is easily understood, Professor Hermann Muller, the best authority on the fertilisation of flowers, states that in Europe the yellowbanded bee (Bombus Terrestris) does not visit the flowers of red clover in a legitimate way, and so bring about cross fertilisation, but always makes a hole near the base of the flower and sucks the nectar through it. To produce the perfect, fertilisation of red clover an insect must possess a proboscis or tongue 10 to 12 millimetres long. The nectar of red clover is secreted at the base of a tube nine to ten millimetres long, formed by the cohesion of the nine inferior stamens with each other and with the claws of the petals. Instead, therefore, of an insect being able to thrust its tongue down to the nectary by the two small openings which lie, one on each side of the superior stamens, as in white clover, it must insert it directly down the staminal tube. Only in this way can the insect receive a dusting of pollen and so ensure cross fertilisation of the flowers, without which the red clover would probably become extinct in a few years. The yellow-banded bee appears to have been liberated in greater numbers than the two species distinct from it and as it is a much hardier bee it increased and spread more rapidly, which explains the non-fertilisation of red clover, at least for some years after their introduction. Both the brown banded and black forms are clover fertilisers, and as soon as they spread and became established in sufficient numbers the fertilisation of red clover proceeded at a very appreciable rate. The introduction of Bombus terrestris in one of the many inexcusable blunders of Acclimatisation Societies which could have been easily avoided by first consulting those versed in the life histories of humble bees and their relative value as clover fertilisers. Lovers of many favourite flowers are aware of the destructive habit of the yellow-banded bee in biting holes at the base of tube flowers, thereby disfiguring them. Hyacinths, Solomon's Seal, Columbines, Dielytra and Delphiniums are familiar examples. Although the black humble bee and the brown-banded variety are clover fertilisers, there is no reason why other useful species should not be introduced to assist in the work which should prove much more remunerative to colonial farmers than corn growing. I have no doubt Mr Griggs is aware that the last two seasons were unfavourable to humble bees and the fertilisation of red clover. The continuance of wet weather, and the presence of the parasitic clover dodder in some districts— just at the time the bees would have done, their work — proved a lost of many thousands of pounds to farmers. It should not, however, be attributed to inability of the bees to fertilise the clover. In introducing exotic animals there is the fear of them changing their natural habit in a new country, and developing new tastes in an opposite direction to what they were intended for. Besides the fertilisation of red clover, the humble bees now fertilise many tubed flowers that were sterile before their introduction. They also visit many flowers in Europe which they reject here, and vice versa. Should Mr Grigg's motion be agreed to by the C.A.P.A., no doubt a careful selection of species will be made by come competent person before introducing them— the result of which all may hope will prove a great boom to New Zealand farmers.
Star 19 February 1886, Page 1
The annual meeting of the members of the Canterbury Acclimatisation Society was held at Warner's Commercial Hotel, last evening. There was a quorum of members present, and the Hon J. T. Peacock, Chairman of the Council, occupied the chair. The first thing of interest that occurred in the year was the introduction of the humble bee (bombus terrestris), through the agency of Mr T. Nottidge, in England. Though, out of £42 worth shipped, £34 worth died in transit, the survivors had done good work, and the Society had to chronicle the successful introduction of the humble bee.
Star 10 January 1885, Page 3
The humble bees lately received from Mr T. S. Nottidge, of Ashford, Kent, by the s.s. Tongariro, and forwarded from Wellington by Dr Crooks (ship's doctor), have been liberated. Messrs H. R. Webb, M. Murphy, Secretary to the Agricultural and Pastoral Association, and E. C. Farr, acting-Secretary to the Acclimatisation Society, took charge of them yesterday, and went out to Riccarton, where the little creatures were set free on Mr John Deans' property. The locality was chosen as being quiet, and having plenty of large open paddocks. Out of the 200  despatched by Mr Nottidge in a dormant state, there remained 40 strong survivors and a few weaklings. The strong took a vigorous flight, and were afterwards observed making good use of their opportunities on the clover tops. Another consignment is expected during the present month, also from Mr Nottidge, who is taking great interest in the experiment of acclimatiaing them here. The fate of those liberated yesterday will be watched with considerable anxiety. Not only is this the first successful attempt which has been made to introduce them, but, from the habits of the humble bee, it seems probable that, as they were apparently taken during the winter period when the drones have generally died off, the shipment will be found to be composed only of impregnated females.
Star 12 January 1885, Page 3
But it may be pretty safely assumed that our new arrivals are the humble bees technically known as Bonibus terrestris. If so, Wood's description may be given
Female. Nearly an inch long. General colour, black. Collar, - orange yellow. Band of yellow near second segment of abdomen. Hinder edge of fourth segment, and whole of fifth, pale yellow. Tip of abdomen naked.
Worker. About half the size of the female, and similarly marked.
Male. About three-quarters of an inch long the yellow brighter, and the tip of the abdomen covered with light, tawny hairs.
Evening Post, 15 December 1906, Page 12
The consignment of bumble bees which was procured in England by the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association (says the Ashburton Guardian) reached Lyttelton in the Paparoa. There are 187 bees of eight distinct varieties. They were in charge of Mr. A White, chief refrigerating engineer of the Paparoa. The bees will be taken to Lincoln college and liberated.
Grey River Argus, 1 March 1906, Page 2
By the Paparoa, which arrived at Lyttelton last Sunday"; morning, the Canterbury A. and P. Association received a consignment of bumble bees from Dover, England. Fifteen specimens had been sent out, and 10 came to hand alive, four bein^ Bombus hortorum and six Bombiw lapidarius. The bees were liberated at Lincoln Agricultural College.
New Zealand official yearbook, Volume 17 1908 pg702
Clover: Owing to lateness of the season of ripening, it sometimes happens that the fertilisation is imperfect, resulting in a majority of barren heads. This gave rise to a controversy as to whether the proper bee has been introduced. The point was referred to the late Miss Ormerod, the English entomologist, with specimens, which that lady identified as Bombus terrestris and subterraneous. The former is declared by Mr. Darwin to be useless as a fertiliser for the reason that its tongue is too short. This question has again been revived, it being thought that while some of the varieties introduced have proved very valuable as fertilisers it is quite possible that there are others still more so. The Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association set up a sub-committee to collect information on the subject. As the result of the inquiries made, Messrs. Sladen, Kipple Court, Dover, England, and A. H. Ham, Oxford, England—well-known scientists—were asked to co-operate in collecting the most suitable species. A small consignment (the season being too far advanced) was shipped by the s.s. "Paparoa," which arrived in Lyttelton on the 24th February, 1906. Out of fifteen sent ten arrived alive—viz., four Bombus lapidarius (the red-tailed bee), and six Bombus hortorum (proboscis or tongue 18 to 21 mm long). These were released in clover-paddocks at and near the Lincoln Agricultural College. Another consignment of 165 red-tailed queens arrived at Lyttelton per steamer " Paparoa" in December, 1906, of which 94 were found to be dead, the balance (71) soon revived when exposed to the warm sun, and took flight. The third consignment of these insects arrived per s.s. "Ruapehu" in December, 1906. The shipment consisted of 145 queens, of which 62 were found to be alive; these were liberated at Mr. H. E. Peryman's farm at Tai Tapu, in the midst of luxuriant clover paddocks. Humble-bees were first successfully introduced into Canterbury in 1885. The variety was Bombus terrestris; and they were found to spread over an area of a hundred miles in less than twelve months. The red-tailed bee is easily distinguished from any other species; the posterior is closely covered with red hairs, hence its name. It is highly probable that this bee, Bombus lapidarius, has at last been established. If so, it will soon spread throughout the length and breadth of the land, and if all that is claimed for this species be correct, red-clover must become a more certain cropper than in the past. For this the Committee of the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association will deserve the gratitude of the farming community. The importations cost the Association £100.
Ellesmere Guardian, 18 May 1945, Page 2
Unfortunately the bumble bee is not amenable to domestication like the honey bee. The large individuals seen on the wing in the spring time are fertilised queens which have spent the winter in some safe retreat about a grassy bank, under a hedge, in sod fences, or about an old haystack. Each queen sets about building herself a nest at the end of an underground tunnel, and when completed, stores a quantity of pollen and honey to supply her own and her offspring's needs. In due course a colony is built up and all the individuals produced during the summer are workers which take over the duties of the nest and the collecting of pollen and nectar in order to enable the queen to devote her time to egg-laying. A bumble bee colony, even in the height of the season, rarely exceeds about 300 individuals. Towards autumn, there is produced in addition to workers, young drones and queens. The young queen leaves the nest and when fertilised seeks out and provisions a safe winter retreat. All other individuals perish before the winter is over and only the young queens survive to start fresh colonies the following spring.
Honey bees are just amazing. The bees get to collect pollen and nectar, and in return they pollinate crops such as clover, raspberries, boysenberries, strawberries, plums, pears, apples, apricots, zucchini, beans and tomatoes, and probably just about everything else, bar potatoes and rice, that you like to eat. It's what might be regarded as the ideal win-win symbiotic relationship. And no plants or animals are harmed in the process. So without bees, there'd be no raspberries and not a lot else in the garden. That is why the arrival of the destructive varroa mite in New Zealand in 2000 and the Nelson region in 2006 was so significant. It is estimated that a bee must visit 218,758 flowers for each ounce of honey gathered. Timaru gardens are superb.
Timaru Herald, 26 December 1883, Page 3
To those who have to deal with bees it will be a valuable piece of knowledge, that a quick and simple remedy for bee and wasp stings may be found in onion juice. A person has been stung, all that is necessary is to cut an onion and rub the place stung with a slice. The pain will cease in less than a minute after the application, so it is said.
Timaru Herald, 25 November 1892, Page 2
Some of country settlers blame the bumble bee for the break down of the honey industry in the last few years. More likely the loss of honey bees is due to the dry summer. There are many more bumble bees in the old country, where honey bees do well enough.
Timaru Herald, 18 November 1899, Page 2
Little Miss Townley: "Was that honey we had at breakfast home-made, Mr Stubbs?"
Farmer Stubbs Why, surely, missy."
Little Miss T. Oh then I suppose you keep a bee?"
A Timaru honey bee on a rose geranium, Nov. 2011. Is that aphids (x3) on this bee?
Wairarapa Daily Times, 29 December 1913, Page 4
At this time of the year people receive many pleasant and varied surprises through the post (says the Timaru Herald), but it is doubtful if any this Christmas have received so great a surprise as a settler on the Maungati rural mail route, who on going out for his mail box one morning last week found in it a swarm of bees.
Bay of Plenty Times, 15 February 1907, Page 4 FIGHTING A PEST.
For an number of years past widespread havoc has been caused among many gum tree plantations in South Canterbury and elsewhere by the depredations of a destructive scale insect (eriococcus coriaceus), introduced within comparatively recent times from Australia. In order to cope, if possible, with the pest, Mr T.W. Kirk, Government biologist, imported from Australia a number of ladybirds of two species (one of a bright blue colour and the other nearly black), these being the chief of the natural enemies of the scab insect. The problem was whether these little beetles would survive the rigors of a New Zealand winter, and, to test the point, the laydbirds were at once liberated in groves of infect ed trees near Timaru. They survived the ordeal of two winters splendidly, and have since increase in most gratifying numbers. Further than that, they have done their work so effectively that many the plantations that were most seriously blighted are now recovering, and the young growth is practically free from blight. The success of the experiment having thus been demonstrated, considerable quantities of the beetles have been collected and distributed between Timaru and Christchurch, it having been found that the disease is spreading in a northerly direction. During the past few days several hundreds of the useful insects have been collected and liberated among fresh fields of labour, and, a further batch of about a thousand is to be distributed over infected areas.