For the last few years we’ve had plenty of tree bees in our garden and even a nest in the attic last year. I’ve been out this morning and there are literally dozens of little tree bee workers buzzing around a bay tree in the garden…but there are no flowers to be seen. They keep landing on the underside of the leaves for a little while and then resume buzzing. What on earth are they doing? Any ideas anyone?
Might they be collecting water, or wax, or some secretion from the leaves ?
Honey bees collect Propolis resin from trees and use it as a mastic / preservative.
They bring this back to the hive in their pollen baskets - as a red resin.
I’ve seen BBs collecting water before, but have never heard, read, or seen them collecting, or using Propolis.
Hi Clive - thanks for your reply
I just went back out there at 7pm and the whole bush is still buzzing - it’s still awash with bees. On closer inspection they are using their front legs in a “combing” action whilst also using their tongue - I guess it could be moisture gathering…but any other ideas welcome!
I have noticed many Bumblebees flying around Beech trees where I work. The loud buzzing first attracted me to the trees.
On close examination I notice (mostly B.lucorum and a B.hypnorum) workers walking over the top and bottom surface of the leaves,
using their tongues to extract something on the leaves. I then noticed what I think are scale insects and/or white fly which had produced a waste on the leaves, honey dew. It seemed to be this ‘liquid’ that the bees were collecting. Some leaves the bees where on didnt seem to have anything on but may well had enough for the bees to collect but not enough for me to see.
I believe Bumblebees have been known to collect honey dew and maybe this is what they were doing.
Maybe I will gather some leaves that have been visited by the bees and look at them under my microscope and see what I discover !