15 June 2013 10:56 AM #31
Here’s the final picture. There is a bee on the left of the picture. Just below the bee you can just make out what we mistakenly thought were bee larvae. It was interesting to note that the bees pretty well ignored the small moth larvae even though on a few occasions we witnessed them looking around that area. If we had known at that stage I don’t think we could have done anything anyway :-(
16 June 2013 05:09 PM #32
Update on the query I received regarding the B. hypnorum bumbles in a school nest box - what to do etc. Thanks to information articles I emailed to the teacher, especially the BBCT information and Clive’s article , the bumbles in the box were safely moved to a new site last Thursday, away from the children. A good ending!
17 June 2013 10:57 AM #33
Here’s a general update on the B. hypnorum situation in my garden and the local area as at 16th June. (High Wycombe, Bucks.)
1. My colony in the nestbox where I’d put a queen in the box, seemed to be active for only a few days, then died out.
(See notes and edited additions above in this thread - Item 15, dated 15th May.)
2. Last Wednesday (12th June), I took down the nestbox from 1. above.
2a. I installed another nestbox containing a fully active colony recovered from it’s original garden (some 3-5 miles away). (It had to be re-homed: tiny garden, small kids, mounted on a shed, bees boiling out of the box when shed used.)
This colony in it’s nestbox, with the entrance securely bunged-up was stored overnight in a cool place, then mounted close to the location vacated by 1. above. (This is on a brick wall about three metres above and to the side of a path, where we have had re-located B. hypnorum colonies many times over the last few years.)
Once in position, the bung was removed from the nestbox entrance hole and I moved smartly away !
There was flight activity within seconds, many re-orientation flights and foraging was soon underway.
These bees are doing well and foraging hard.
Within two days I was seeing some Drone Nest Surveillance activity - just a small number of bees, and not continuous yet.
My wife runs an Allotment some 250 metres away from the bee’s location. We were already seeing a few B. hypnorum foragers working the flowers on the Raspberries down there: but the number of B. hypnorum foragers there has increased markedly since I moved the new colony to my garden. The many other foragers at these raspberries are mainly B. pratorum, especially drones; but also a few honey bees and a few B. pascuorum.
So, bringing a hypnorum colony to my garden has definitely boosted the local bumblebee foraging force.
18 June 2013 10:17 PM #34
I’m a newbie and have been so fascinated by the B. hypnorum living in our bird box that I had to write it in my personal blog a little over a week ago. The activity around the box is so frantic now that my family is worried about going in the garden. I’ve taken the view that we’re safe as long as we don’t bother them. I posted again in my blog at
yesterday and I think that I have exactly what George is describing here…
Nurturing Nature - 12 June 2013 08:02 AM
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!!
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
The little guys buzz around the box from dawn to dusk sometimes dropping back to the hole and back out again. I’m sure there were about 20 of them this morning. There’re others who fly in and out bypassing all the buzzers obviously thinking about work. I’m much happier thinking that they’re dancing and not defending, but does it mean that there’s no queen?
How long will this last? Will I be able to clean out the box in the winter to attract more birds, or is this a beehive forever?
19 June 2013 05:13 PM #35
The “Dancing” lasts for a few weeks.
It’s an example of the extreme fecundity of Nature !
It can start soon after dawn and last until dusk.
You’ll see a few local inhabitant bees ignoring the cloud and flying straight in / out of the box to go foraging - these will be workers and are often quite small.
If a virgin queen (looks much bigger than the males, but still the same colouration) comes out, the male bees will chase her and try to mate. It looks like fighting. Not all attempts are successful. If they couple, it can be for an hour or more.
Be careful not to knock the box, or else the workers can become very defensive and can start to sting.
If you clean out the box afterwards (say September onwards) it should be re-useable by bees.
Other info is in my BeeCraft article accessible from the BBCT website in the About Bees area, then FAQs about Moving a colony.
Here’s a link:
There are videos of the drone cloud on YouTube. (So I suggest you explore !)
I hope this helps.
19 June 2013 09:10 PM #36
Thank you, Clive. I’m definitely not going anywhere near the box and I don’t think the kids will either. They do fly in wide circles, a few metres anyway, and they often travel the length of the fence either side of the box, sometimes stopping on a nearby tree. So far they’re not bothering us, but we’re keeping a safe distance.
19 June 2013 11:22 PM #37
In my last post I said that we have wax moth intrusion in the nest. This situation hasn’t changed I’m sure but the larvae/caterpillar seem to have disappeared from view and I guess are now deeper inside the nest creating havoc! While watching the monitor this evening I twice saw a wax moth inside the box! On a thought regarding ‘scent’ to help guide the bees into the nest along with the wax moth I wondered if there was also any visible guide too. I waited till dark and went out with a UV torch, there was nothing to indicate a visible guide but there was a wax moth on the outside of the box heading for the entrance hole! Without meaning to upset moth lovers I put the bees interests first ... say no more
The queen put in an appearance inside the box on Monday, I don’t think she will take to the air again given the poor state of her wings. Like Colin we have the males ‘dancing’ outside the box at the moment, only between 3 and about 10 - 12 at a time, if they stood still we could count them. All we hope now is that the nest makes it through the full cycle given the wax moth problem.
20 June 2013 09:27 PM #38
Queen sized B. hypnorum collecting pollen !
To my surprise I saw a queen sized B. hypnorum bee collecting pollen this afternoon, from the flowerheads of a climbing Hydrangea.
I wonder if she is setting up a second generation colony ?
Any comments ?
22 June 2013 05:26 PM #39
I was under the impression that they only set up one colony Clive but then I’m still learning
On another topic, I know some of asked about how far away to stay from the B. hypnorum nests they have found in their gardens etc. especially those with lil ones, this may help.
We had done a bit in the garden yesterday, nothing major and in reality most of the work was in the neighbours garden, that done in ours was on the other side of the garden from the B. hypnorum nest box around our bee friendly patch. Anyway, we went to sit down on the garden bench to admire our handy work, we were about 8ft away from the B. hypnorum nest box, I felt something land on my head and my wife said there’s a bee on your head, as she said that I felt the sting! The first word wasn’t ouch but I heard it fly off and turned to see it enter the nest box hole. So, in the case of B. hypnorum I would suggest a bit more than 8 ft!
To prove this didn’t put me off our buzzy friends, we saw a bee wondering drunk like across the carpet in the lounge today (Buff-tailed - B. terrestris male/worker I think), it must have entered the house yesterday when we had the patio open with the nice weather. It made it about half way across the room and stopped, slowly going over onto it’s side. I went to the kitchen, added a teaspoon of sugar to a small drop of warm water and stirred. On heading back to the lounge I spoon fed the poor thing some sugar water. I’ve never done this before but I was actually fascinated, I could clearly see it’s proboscis go into the water and it’s tail started to move. It took all of about a 60 seconds then in went the proboscis, it buzzed, then took off eventually heading out the way we think it came in yesterday. I was very pleased!
22 June 2013 07:14 PM #40
We have a tree bumblebee nest in the eaves of our house in Leeds, W Yorks. Reading various sources, it doesn’t seem to be a problem and as I am a keen gardener I would not like to have to get rid of the nest unless absolutely necessary. Is there any risk of them causing damage to the house?
Many thanks in anticipation.
22 June 2013 07:38 PM #41
I don’t think so.
They usually make their nest in an old birds nest, but loft insulation could be a substitute.
(I know that this was used as nest material when Nikki Gammans was trying to establish artificial colonies of B.SubT in New Zealand two or three years back.)
The BB faeces are pretty liquid; and will be voided around the nest perimeter; but most house lofts are pretty dry and airy, so the fluid should quickly evaporate.
And also a spring colony such as you have is quite likely to reach peak and die out naturally around the end of July.
In an urban situation any BB colony is at risk of attack by Aphomia sociella Wax Moth, which would eat the nest, then move away to pupate.
These caterpillars are able though to nibble at wood to make themselves a snug over-wintering place, so you might see some ting localised damage to the wood surface where they have been active.
As to the garden, these bees are excellent pollinators of Raspberries, but also work many other types of flower.
I hope this helps - come back if you need any further help !
22 June 2013 07:53 PM #42
Many thanks for that - we’ve been watching them busily pollinating the raspberries all day!
Thanks for the helpful information. We had a honeybee nest in a similar position last year and unfortunately we had to have it destroyed. The bees seem to be minding in their own business. There is quite a cloud of them outside the nest during the day and we’ve found several “drunk” ones on the floor.
22 June 2013 07:58 PM #43
I’m a newbie but we have a bombus hypnorum nest in our bird house and this website has gave us really great info. We are at the neste surveillance stage and have upwards of 20 bees swarming outside. The box is not very high and we have a toddler and so was considering moving it. But reading here and knowing it shouldn’t last too long, we are just going to leave it. Managed to get a slow motion video of them which is pretty cool. I think the virgin queens have started to emerge as I can have seen a pair drop to the floor.