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The Tree Bumblebee - B. hypnorum

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Are there any folk out there who would like to swap notes about B. hypnorum ?

This new species has been doing so well, and is such an active pollinator of raspberries etc, but somehow doesn’t seem to be causing any diminution in the numbers of the Early bumblebee, B. pratorum.

Any comments ?

Clive

     
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Last year was the first year that I was aware of it around me but it seems to be doing far better than the others this year. Still seeing pratorum around so I don’t think it’s having a negative effect here.

Seems to have a wide selection of food plants so that may be one reason, aswell as nesting way off the ground so having more protection from heavy rain. It’s also one of the first I’ve seen out foraging after the rain.

     
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B. Hypnorum: In 2009 I saw this BB in quite large numbers for the very first time. I am in East Yorkshire, but already there were reports of sightings much further north. 2010 brought less of them; 2011 a few. So I watch with interest this year. The smaller workers are here; about four seen in any sunny day, but the weather has meant a very late start to blooming….does this follow that BH are also unlikely to emerge till sunny days are established? I’m not clear about the effect of weather on their or any BBs cycle.
Mine are very keen on the Ajuga.

     
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We first came across them last year - see story half way down this page http://yabeep.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/bumblebee-rescue-programme.html but subsequently that year saw several nests of them. Have also seen them this year.

Robin

PS Sorry, I can’t work out how to link the hyperlink on this forum :-(

     
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In our garden, (Bedfordshire), they’ve been the most frequently spotted species this year. Both last year, and this, they’ve made nests in our house, (last year behind the tile cladding and this year they’re in the cavity wall), which at least means they’re protected from the weather. After 4 weeks of almost constant rain and wind in April/May I was concerned as to whether the nest could have survived…but I checked tonight and there were workers busily going in and out. There are very few other bumblebees around at present, sadly.

     
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Thanks to the various correspondents to my tentative ‘Thread’ on B. hypnorum.

I’d agree that hypnorum seems to have coped with the bad spring relatively well and is probably the commonest bumblebee about in my area at the moment.

My BKA (in Bucks) is getting a good many ‘Help-line’ calls that are about it and a few of them will need to be moved to a safer location.
So, if anyone wanted to act as Host to a colony, they could try talking to their local BKA Swarm Officer and offering to take a colony that the Swarm Officer has decided to move.

Any new location MUST be free of vibration though, since this upsets the bees and makes them defensive (aggressive form human perspective) - so put them on a solid surface and away from close-by human walkways.

Yesterday evening I collected a bird box colony.  It was in a TINY garden and the high level of bee activity was preventing the householder being able to go it her garden.  When I put the box in its new position in my garden this morning, then pulled the plug out of the entrance, I was surprised to see there were one or two new queens joining in the mad rush for freedom and re-orientation to their new location.  Since then there has been the usual Drone Nest-surveillance small cloud of bees in the air outside the box.

So B. hypnorum has coped well with the weather and maybe is already heading for second generation colonies.

Clive

     
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I know very little about this species but I do know I have some living in my porch! I am supposed to be doing some work on my porch in June but do not want to disturb them so have been advised to wait till they leave before I start. Does anyone know if they are likely to leave of their own accord and if so when? Someone suggested they should have left by July but anyone have any other thoughts? I dont want to pay someone large sums of money to kill them as I want to conserve them if at all possible.

     
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In answer to Mick5, I’ve re-homed/located B. hypnorum colonies several times over the last few years.
They always seem to die out around July - due mainly to Wax Moth (Aphomia sociella) invasion of the nest.
You see a nest full of amazingly dense cobweb silk, and beneath the silk will be large numbers of voracious caterpillars, which eat everything.
But you do also see Queens of this species around then and some of them must set up a second cycle of the species, because you see the odd worker into the autumn.
It might be worth considering moving the nest to a nest box, then moving that stepwise by a short distance every day or two !
Good luck with them - & Enjoy !
Clive

     
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Thanks Clive

Unfortunately I can not actualy see the nest as they are nesting within the structure of the porch. I only know they are in there because I can see them coming and going and by the noise!

So moving them is not really an option as it would mean taking sections of the porch down to get at them and although I am happy for this to happen I cant find anyone willing to undertake this task… and there is no way I am going to give it a go!
Clive as sods law would have it my porch needs to be taken down as it is not safe but I am worried about doing this if the bees are still active, I suspect they would not take kindly to being disturbed! However I can not wait till later that end of July to dismantle my porch for safety reasons….what would you advise?

     
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A further follow-up to Mick5

What you see and hear as activity are not all from the bees which live in the colony.

The only ways I can think of for detecting the nest location, would be to use your hearing, or a stethoscope (or microphones) to detect the noise of the colony itself: or use an Infrared Thermometer to detect it from the heat it emits - or a Thermal Camera - which is the same thing really.
You would have to do this at night, so that there was no interference noise from flying bees.
Alternatively, you could try puffing down a piece of hose, to get sound reaction from the bees due to your breath !
If you worked by red light (Cycle rear light) you would be able to see what you are doing/where you were in the structure, but the bees (who can’t see red light) would be relatively undisturbed.

I’ll think further on this one , but my battery is about to go down !

Clive

     
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Thanks Clive

I may well dig out my old bike lights! Appreciate all your help.

Will keep you posted.

     
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hi, I’m new to this site and was directed here from the trusts twitter page.  I posted a picture of bees that have made their home in my kitchen roof, the person who responded said they thought they were tree bumblebees which I’d never heard of.

I did ask how I could get rid of them from my roof, I only have a back yard and at the moment there can be Upto 10 bees flying around the yard and up to the roof.my child is terrified and I cant say I’m too thrilled at this either.I Darent open my window because they are right above it. They vary in size too, some are huge!   


Will be grateful of any help or advice.

Thanks Vanessa.

     
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Hi Vanessa, firstly welcome to the site….....

Could you upload a picture of the bees to this thread as it might make it easier to identify them; but how to get rid of them is a tricky one and I understand that not everyone is happy to have them living in such close proximity . Generally, if you leave them alone they will leave you alone, Bumblebees are more likely to roll over and play dead then to sting you, so I wouldn’t worry to much on that.

Hopefully someone will pick this thread up and offer you the advice your seeking !

     
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Hi Vanessa,

What follows may seem a bit technical, but if you work your way through, it should help you come to an understanding of what is going on.

It is nearly 100% certain that you have a colony of Tree Bumblebees living in your kitchen roof, as the symptoms you describe fit a common scenario for this species.  (The other common nest location is in an old Blue Tit nest in a Bird Box.)

Although you are seeing a lot of bee-traffic, if I’m right, when you watch the bees, they will mainly be floating around in the air close to the nest entry-point, with only occasional bees going into or out of the place where they are flying from (entrance hole).  Also, the bees ought to have very clear white tails, be of chunky shape and very furry.  If you can get a photo of them with a digital camera, or similar, then you ought to be able to see that the Thorax of the bee is brown, most of the abdomen is black and a clearly white tail.  The photo can be quite blurred, but you should still be able to make out the colour sequence. (Occasionally the thorax is so dark that it looks the same colour as the abdomen.)

The bees will vary in size, if the colony is producing queens these will look quite large.  The workers are fairly small and the male bees intermediate in size.  (Most of the bees in the cloud will be male.)  All of them will have the same colouration.

Nearly all the bee-traffic will be male bees who are on the lookout for a virgin queen bee with which to mate.  If a virgin bee comes through the drone-cloud, they will chase her and try to grab her and mate.  Mating takes an hour, perhaps longer and will be on a hard surface.

Male bees (aka drones) CANNOT sting, because they have no sting.  For a bee to have a sting it has to be a girl (female ie worker or queen).

I can offer you several suggestions as to how to cope with your bee-tenants.
1.  Put up with what is happening for about another month, then the colony will naturally die out.  You might enjoy the spectacle and learn from it !
2.  If you can see a discrete point (hole) from which the bees are entering/leaving the building, then it might be worth considering using something like kitchen waste pipe to extend their tunnel to somewhere less inconvenient to you.  This would have to be done at night and well sealed so they don’t creep out at the junction point.
3.  You might be able to put some sort of netting (an old curtain) just below their entrance, so that the activity is safely away from the window.
4. You could ask a person with bee-knowledge (ie via your local Beekeepers Association) to help remove the bees.
5.  If all else fails, you could get a pest controller to kill the colony.

Please come back to me and we can talk through your best options !

Yours

Clive

PS I did try to post something earlier, but can’t see it in the listing.

     
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Hi Peter and Clive.

Thank you for taking the time to reply to me.

I have attached 2 pictures of the bees that I took the other day. The one on the brush was a really big one in real life, the other was smaller but had lost a wing and crawling around the yard.

It isn’t so much that I want them killed off, I was thinking of sticking out til the hive died down anyway, it was more that the numbers seem to be increasing over the last few weeks which is a bit of a pain purely because of where they have situated themselves.  It has been interesting to watch them and I have seen a couple of them mating too.

Some of my concerns are:  do they all die out or do some hibernate in there until next year? I don’t want to block off their entrance and have some trapped in there next spring,. Also, I read in an earlier post about wax moth (i think that’s what it is called), Will they invade the hive I have or not because i really don’t fancy a load of caterpillars in my roof space.

Thanks again smile

     

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I’m sure I’ll be able to get plenty of other pictures if they interest people .