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Tree Bumblebee Newbie

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Joined 2013-06-17

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Our bird box was bereft of birds this year so a few weeks ago I decided to move it. I opened it up to clear out the old nesting material when my probing hands came across the biggest bumblebee I’d ever seen. I’m now presuming this was a queen… and she wasn’t happy. I quickly put the roof back on and put the box up on the fence, where I’ve been keeping any eye on things.

On 9 June I quickly wrote in my blog when I spotted a few pollen-laden tree bees dropping in. As a newbie I’ve been fascinated.

So today, 17 June, it’s more disconcerting. I captured photos of 11 flying defensively around the nest and 8 sitting in a ring around the hole. While the colony seems to be thriving, it’s worrying the family. I can stand about 2m away from the box without them bothering with me - the odd one flies in my direction, but not in attack mode.

Is the garden safe for the kids? Is there anything I should be doing?

     
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Joined 2012-06-18

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Hi Colp. I’ve been watching the same in one of our nest boxes. It is fascinating to watch. Regarding your question, this thread elsewhere on the forum may be of interest and answer your question:
http://bumblebeeconservation.org/forum/viewthread/1695/

Ron

     
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Joined 2013-06-17

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Thanks Ron. I’ve seen that thread, but I didn’t see anything much about how safe these nests are. Having said that I’ve just read that they could be dancing smile There were about 20 of them today. I wonder how many it’ll grow to…

     
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Total Posts: 271

Joined 2012-05-24

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Take a look at this link Colp, it should help with your queries !

Clive

http://bumblebeeconservation.org/images/uploads/Bee_Craft_May_2013,_Bombus_hypnorum.pdf

     
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Total Posts: 5

Joined 2013-06-17

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That’s very informative. Thank you, Clive.

     
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Joined 2013-06-20

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Hi, we discovered our first Tree Bumble bee colony yesterday. Thought there were a lot of bees showing an interest in our clematis growing up the fence and there is an old bird box attached to the fence buried behind the plant leaves etc. If anyone is interested, we live in South East Essex - in the Rochford area. I know this type of Bee is now pretty common around here, but first time I have seen it myself.

As an aside, we did have a great tit nest in place up until a couple of weeks ago. The great tit nest was very close to where the bee’s have set up (probably a couple of feet away, and attached to same piece of fence) and whilst we were not aware of the bee’s at that time we did wonder why the birds eventually abandoned the nest (including their young). Am wondering if the bee’s had something to do with this.

The bees are definately Tree bumbe - they have a distincive brown colouring and typically there are 5-10 of them constantly buzzing around the plant.

I cannot see the birdbox/bee nest as the foilage is too dense.

Few questions if I may. We have a small garden, the bees have set up home next to our garden decking area, if anyone was brave enough to sit on the garden bench they would have to put up with a number of bees flying around their head.

To be fair to the bees, they have been remarkably tolerant so far. We have had to move some of the decking furniture to try and see if we can spot the nest (it didnt help) and despite a heavy table scraping over the decking etc the bees did not pop out to chase us away.

Given the nest is probably in a bird box, how big will the colony get? I have a 7 and 5 year old child and a large dog that thumps around on the decking. I would like to think the bees will leave us alone but this becomes more of an issue if the colony gets larger.

As things stand, our decking area is probably out of bounds as no one is going to want to sit there.

I am probably not brave enough to venture out and move the box - access to it is not going to be easy given the amount of plant foilage in the way. I cant see it so not sure hacking through to reach it would be a good idea!

Is there anything I can do to encourage the bees to move of their own accord? I dont want them destroyed but they have set up home in an area that we used to use frequently and there is a risk of either the dog setting them of, or one of the children playing in the garden.

Any advice gratefuly received.

     
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Total Posts: 271

Joined 2012-05-24

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Hi Chortle,

Check out the link up the page, on post number 3. 
It should give you a good background understanding.

Then come back with some more questions !

Clive