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Observations of B.hypnorum & B. pratorum

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Here in Carmarthenshire the warm weather has brought out many queen bumblebees. Up until recently most have been feeding but in the last few days I have observed some nest searching, mainly B.pratorum and B. terrestris. I have also noted a B.hypnorum feeding in the garden on pieris, heather and lungwort for several days.

Yesterday at around 4:30pm I observed a B.hypnorum queen (Tree bumblebee) nest searching in the garden. I watched her for about ten minutes and noted that she never ‘searched’ at ground level. She was first seen flying at around 6ft investigating a honeysuckle on a trellis , then around the guttering of our bungalow, and finally the eaves, guttering and roof line of our shed. She would land regularly crawling under the guttering, roof etc. She reminded me of a queen wasp as they tend to nest search in the same areas.  I would be very interested if anyone else has observed this species nest searching before. Has anyone observed ground nests of this species in the past ?
Today (17th - Happy St. Patrick’s) I noticed a B.hypnorum queen enter a bird nest box situated on an oak tree in my garden !

One more quick observation I noted today was a B.pratorum queen feeding on Lungwort and she had small quantities of pollen. Therefore she already has a nest set up.

Sorry for the novel length of this topic.

Kevin

     
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Thank you for your wonderful observations.
I dont have personal experience of Tree bees having lived in Ireland and Scotland. Tree bees were only found in Scotland for the first time last year and are not found in Ireland.
But there are several threads about Tree bees on the forum moderated by Clive our Tree bee expert.

He will probably set up a 2014 thread for this subject soon

     
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Here is a good thread on Tree bumblebees from last year

http://bumblebeeconservation.org/forum/viewthread/1695/

     
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KevinH - 17 March 2014 09:30 PM

Here in Carmarthenshire the warm weather has brought out many queen bumblebees. Up until recently most have been feeding but in the last few days I have observed some nest searching, mainly B.pratorum and B. terrestris. I have also noted a B.hypnorum feeding in the garden on pieris, heather and lungwort for several days.

Yesterday at around 4:30pm I observed a B.hypnorum queen (Tree bumblebee) nest searching in the garden. I watched her for about ten minutes and noted that she never ‘searched’ at ground level. She was first seen flying at around 6ft investigating a honeysuckle on a trellis , then around the guttering of our bungalow, and finally the eaves, guttering and roof line of our shed. She would land regularly crawling under the guttering, roof etc. She reminded me of a queen wasp as they tend to nest search in the same areas.  I would be very interested if anyone else has observed this species nest searching before. Has anyone observed ground nests of this species in the past ?
Today (17th - Happy St. Patrick’s) I noticed a B.hypnorum queen enter a bird nest box situated on an oak tree in my garden !

One more quick observation I noted today was a B.pratorum queen feeding on Lungwort and she had small quantities of pollen. Therefore she already has a nest set up.

Sorry for the novel length of this topic.

Kevin

Hi Kevin,

Yes, I’ve noticed such behaviour before.  I’ve seen them checking out at house gutter level fairly frequently.

But they do sometimes nest at / close to ground as well.  One of my correspondents in the London area says she has been asked to move many colonies of this species in Compost Heaps.

The other ground level activity you may see is searching around for somewhere safe /secluded to do a spot of sunbathing.

I hope this helps !          Yours       Clive

     
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Hi Clive & Kevin,
Re: Bombus hypnorum :  Yesterday, I spotted a queen basking at head height on the south-facing wall of my house.  The rustic bricks most likely retain lots of heat during a cool spell when the sun goes behind the clouds.  I had a B. hyp.  nest in a bird box last year but only bluetits so far this year .  There are three more potential boxes vacant and waiting!
urbanbumble

     
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Hi Clive & Kevin,

Yesterday was lovely & sunny and I saw a B. hypnorum queen go in and out of one of the three remaining bird boxes - used in 2012 by Bombus pratorum.  I hope she decides it is a good place for a nest.  Another B. hyp queen [? same one] was foraging Lesser Celandine flowers.  I have masses of them - beautiful, but they spread everywhere!
urbanbumble

     
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Urbanbumble

Has the B.hypnorum decided to set up home in your bird box ?

Kevin