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Tree Bumblebee (B. hypnorum) 2013 Notes

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Re: An exciting update at 26/5/13 - Interesting Clive and I think we would concur that given the now larger number of bees in our nest than first thought it is rare to see many leaving or entering on foraging flights from the outside. We have spotted a few but not in the numbers you might expect.

Keep us posted

Ron

     
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A bit more info for Ron.

Thanks for your fascinating feedback.
In my advice I should have said to wear a sweatshirt or suchlike with long sleeves and tight fitting cuffs; and to make sure that the gloves fit right up to and over the cuffs !  (So I will edit the text to post-add this info, so everything is in one place.)

Secondly, I don’t know the exact details of the nest box, but it might be worth trying :-
Oiling the catch.
Oiling the hinge.
Let the oil soak in for half an hour or so, then:
Un-latching the lid.
Waiting a few minutes for the bee’s reaction to settle down.
Then quietly raising the lid to adjust the camera.

I hope it is not this, but one thing that worries me is that the “cobweb” you are reporting might be a sign of attack by Aphomia sociella Bumblebee Wax Moth caterpillars.  These can densely cover the nest with silk - and initially it looks just like cobwebs.

Meanwhile I must investigate the link to some pictures that you have given us. 

Many Thanks !    Yours       Clive

     
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Thanks for asking Ron.

Yes I do have news.  After about a week of watching the compost bin for signs of activity and, despite looking for good long spells, I saw nothing.

So, I took the plunge and gently lifted the lid of the bin and saw one B. hypnorum which must have been a worker as it was rather small.  I gently returned the lid.

Yesterday I stood looking for quite some time and was rewarded with the sight of a worker returning to the nest, the entrance of which is at the base of the bin.  I was not able to see if it had full pollen baskets as it disappeared very quickly.  Later I saw tiny hypnorum worker near to the bins working some aubretia flowers filling its pollen baskets.  Nearby I have a patch of phacelia which is just now coming into flower where there were a couple of red tail workers also filling their baskets. 

Sparrow - Sue

     
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In reply to you Clive.

I don’t think they are Wax Moth caterpillars as on eviction the other evening a small spider was with the web we removed however we will keep an eye on things. Regarding the link to pictures, it’s actually a link to a web cam, enjoy!

Sue (Sparrow).

Now that sounds like good news. As I said in my last post you would expect more foraging trips in and out of the nest but it doesn’t seem to be the case unless they have developed stealth technology! Non the less I bet you were smiling from ear to ear when you spotted the worker in your compost bin and the worker returning to the nest. smile

Ron

     
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Hello Clive et al!

Great advice re B. hypnorums Clive…..when talking to others about these bees I too state that they are more ‘defensive’ of their nests than other species! It raises less alarm than ‘they aggressively defend their nests’!  I suspect this is because they like to nest in tree holes which may well be investigated by nest site seeking birds…..competition..

Night work…...if I may add I use a Petzl Tac Tikka head torch with 3 LEDs, works a treat with a red flip down cover to turn the white LEDs to red and keeps your hands free!!    They have now improved it….....  http://www.outdoorgb.com/p/petzl_tactikka_plus/ 

I am working on something re hypnorums which I will post later on. Cheers George

     
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Hi All,

“Free” Red Filters you can use with ordinary White Light LED, or Tungsten Filament torches to convert them into Red Light sources for working with bumblebees in the dark.

Marks & Spencer sell boxes of Chocolate Cherry sweets which are wrapped with red cellophane squares, about 10 x 10 cm.
The contents of the wrapper are delicious, but you have to be over 18 to buy them since they contain alcohol.

The wrappers can be fixed over the torch / head torch using a rubber band.
There will of course be some loss of brightness, since you are able to use / see only the red wavelengths emitted by the LEDs or bulbs: and human visual sensitivity is reduced in that spectral area.

But this light works well with bees !

I suspect the wrappers are coated with a coloured gelatine layer, since if you get the squares wet for a prolonged time, some of the red will dissolve into the water.

So, try some and see how delicious they are !!!

Yours         Clive

     
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Hi All

Just a quick update. It was a bit wet and cold earlier in the week in our neck of the woods and not much activity in the nest. Friday and today things are warmer with sunshine, though a bit windy this morning, but there is a lot more activity with notable foraging expeditions and lots of ‘housework’ around the nest as some of you may have noticed.

Clive & George. Regarding the ‘red light’.  We have a couple of Petzl head torches that we use out and about but with nor red filter George. I’m kind of liking the idea of M&S Chocolate Cherry’s Clive but sadly I try to stay clear of those as my wife is diabetic and she needs to control her diet. :( Anyway, I bought a 3 LED torch some time back and did a conversion by removing the white/blue LED’s and replacing them with red ones after doing the necessary calculation to make sure the voltage to the red LED’s was correct.

Will try to keep some sort of update going here. Have a good weekend all.

Ron

     
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An update on the BB nest in my compost bin.  I am delighted to say that there is a lot of activity and I can also confirm that this is a B. hypnorum nest.  There seem to be several workers all of a good size.

Today and yesterday I saw a huge B. lapidarius queen working the phacelia flowers on my allotment.  Now I need to find her nest.

Sparrow - Sue

     
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Great news Sparrow - Sue, worth the wait! Ours is doing well with lots of foraging. A bit of excitement this evening when a cat used the nest box top as a step up to get over the fence. They were soon out to defend but the cat had long gone. Not sure if you have taken a look at the webcam yet, it isn’t bad, not best of quality as it’s an old camera, but you get to see some of what’s going on inside the nest.

Ron

     
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Update. There has been more activity in the box and foraging trips this week, mainly I think due to the warmer weather. Over the past couple of days there seems more activity around the edge of the nest, for those watching usually the top left and right of the picture.  This evening (Friday) we noticed the heads of three or four larvae poking their heads up through the nest material! We can’t help but wonder how many larvae there are under there.

Ron

     
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Clive, I hope you find this interesting…... it was due to your info leaflet so thanks for that!!

Tree bumblebee, B. hypnorm males dance outside of nests awaiting virgin queens.. see the dancing drones video!!

http://bit.ly/1buMTJW

You may also find this interesting Bumblebees are eaten by some insectivorous birds. Can bees steal a birds nest? Yes they can..how? find out here

http://bit.ly/13p1Nyw


Cheers George

     
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Hi everyone,
Until last week, I thought that I had no bumble nests in my garden .......the great tits had fledged from the tree box and I thought that the blue tits had given up using the trellis box because of competition from the great tits for the food available in the garden - BUT I know the reason why now -  it has become an active B. hypnorum nest - lots of comings and goings and fanning on warm days; and the workers are busy foraging green alkanet and geranium phaeum and gathering pollen from Welsh poppies.  I wonder if the blue tits were there first and kicked out by the queen, or whether they disturbed her down in among the old nesting material and didn’t fancy the neighbours!
I’ve just had to field a query about an active nest box with B. hypnorums, from a teacher at a school, where it was near to the children & their potential safety from stings etc.  I forwarded Clive’s article about moving nest boxes and to keep in touch.  He doesn’t want to kill the bumbles but must give priority to the children’s safety.  A difficult decision to make - pest control would most likely kill the bumbles!
urbanbumble

     
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Hi all

Update on the B. hypnorum nest here. At the beginning of the week there was the usual activity and we noted three sizes of bee in the nest, the queen, about 8 or so medium in size and a few smaller bees. We had some building work done Tuesday so the webcam was turned off and we couldn’t monitor activity inside the box.

Turning the camera on again today (Friday) it seems quieter but that may be to the cooler and windy weather. Also the larvae seem active and we are not sure if they are bumblebee larvae. I noted some silky thread which it looks like these larvae are creating. I have some video and will try to get a still from that and post here for comments. For a quick description the large ones creating this ‘silk’ are about as long as a large meal worm and look similar except the body looks grey and the head is more black than the brown colour of a meal worm.

Ron

     
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Ron have a look here you may have an infestation of wax moths :-(

http://nurturing-nature.co.uk/bumblebees-and-their-ecology/bumblebees-and-wax-moths-the-silent-but-deadly-killers-must-see-video-2/

cheers George

     
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George, thanks for a most informative article and videos, I’ll bookmark that link.

Sadly our nest looks like it has fallen victim to the wax moth :-(

Earlier on in this thread I had been trying to adjust the camera and remove a web from the box that was blurring the view of the camera. Clive had said that it may be wax moth but at that point it was indeed a small spider that had taken up residence as I scooped it gingerly out with the web one evening to get a clearer view of the bees.

I can’t see much that we can do to help, going inside will upset the bees of which there seems less activity again today and even if we could get away with not being stung from reading that article we fear there will be to much damage to have any effect. Needless to say we are gutted. I managed to grab some stills although not very clear, I had said the camera in that box was an old one so apologies if the quality is not that good.

Ron

     

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