29 May 2014 10:45 PM #16
On Springwatch Unsprung this evening on BBC2, they showed a short video of a Blue Tit interacting with a probable Tree Bumblebee Queen in a nest box.
It was about half way through the programme. It looked as though the bee won !
Do watch it on BBC IPlayer !
06 June 2014 08:55 PM #17
The video on spring watch was very interesting - can understand why the birds may decide not to use the box !
Unfortunately the colony of B. hypnorum I previously mentioned in a bird box in my garden has died out. I took a look into the box but no obvious reasons. The colony started off relatively well, then I had other queens entering the nest, and recently I noticed that there were fewer and fewer workers being seen. Maybe the queen died.
I do have some hypnorum workers in the garden feeding on a variety of plants. I had also previously observed a queen entering the roof space of my bungalow but this queen has not been seen for sometime now, presumed dead/deserted. I was looking forward to seeing a male ‘swarm’ but maybe next year.
I currently have three active nests in my garden, a hortorum, a terrestris and a pratorum.
have you any active nests ?
07 June 2014 04:00 PM #18
Hi everyone, I have just found and joined this forum today. A few days ago I noticed bees coming and going under our soffits. I’ve done lots of ‘reading up’ and now feel quite excited they are here. We identified them as tree bumblebees. We have two daughters 2&7, they have become very interested too. Initially I was worried whether the bees would do any damage where they have nested but now feel quite happy they wont. There are always 4/5 bees hovering around the nest and this afternoon one bee (not sure if it was the queen or not but was very large) landed down on the ground then proceeded to walk up the wall to the nest, amazing to watch.
09 June 2014 10:33 PM #19
I’ve also just joined today. I have a nest behind an air brick outside the kitchen wall; they’ve been here quite a while now and must have started producing sexuals about three or more weeks ago, as there started to be drone clouds and on more than one occasion I observed queens fly out and get taken to the ground by an attentive male. So I think the colony is nearly over, as the size of the drone cloud has been diminishing in the last few days. I’m consciouus that the very mild winter probably meant they started it sooner than in a normal year. I live in Malvern, Worcs.
17 September 2014 09:02 AM #20
21 September 2014 08:56 PM #21
Second generation nest of Bombus hypnorum.
I have strong evidence of a second generation nest of B.hypnorum somewhere close to my garden in N.E.Hampshire. During the first 4 weeks of August I saw a very small number of either B.hypnorum workers or queens. However for the last 25 days I have been seeing queens or workers on an almost daily basis. On Friday 12 Sept this seemed to reach a peak with four new queens nectaring on symphoricarpus at the same time. As late as 16 Sept three queens were seen foraging simultaneously. The number of workers (or possibly males on a few occasions) has been much smaller. The nest is now in obvious decline. Today there was just 1 queen and 1 worker. The latest date on which I have seen a worker in any previous year is 22 August so today’s observation is more than 4 weeks later than this.
Has anyone else been aware of a second generation nest? I think that James Riall’s B.hypnorum queen (17 Sept) was probably from a second generation nest.
21 Sept 2014
26 September 2014 09:55 AM #22
I think there’s another second generation nest on Shapwick Heath NNR: yesterday I found 4 fresh queens feeding on a comfrey patch. It was interesting comparing their behaviour with that of pascuorum workers feeding on the same plants. The pascuorum workers were much busier and flew from flower to flower whilst the hypnorum queens were much more bumbling. One climbed from flower to flower rather than flying. I’ve not seen hypnorum workers since 4th August anywhere, so seeing new queens is quite unexpected!
27 September 2014 08:26 PM #23
A very interesting observation. Four fresh B.hypnorum queens all feeding on comfrey at the same time certainly sounds like a second generation nest somewhere close by. Did you get any impression of where the nest might have been? Are there any buildings, houses, Visitor Centre, bird hides, bird nesting boxes close by, or was it well out on the Reserve where the nest is more likely to be in a hollow willow or alder tree, etc? I have visited Shapwick Heath NNR in the past and remember a large area of fenland. My own observation were made at the edge of suburban housing with old gravel pits close by. I suspect my nest was in a shed, house, etc.
27 Sept 2014
30 September 2014 09:53 AM #24
We found these queens on the north side of the reserve in the Meare Heath area, which is basically dugout peat beds that are now full of reeds and patches of water. We were on the track running along the east side of Meare Heath wood. I’m not sure if there are any nestboxes in the wood, but there are some disused buildings from the peat digging days and probably plenty of holes in trees for them to nest in. However, whilst doing beewalks along the South Drain near here, I have often noticed that there’s a lot of movement north-south over Meare Heath, with bumblebees flying to feed along the South Drain, so the nest could actually be well to the north - maybe even in Meare village. I would guess, though, that new queens would be more likely to disperse over distance, so seeing several together would make it more likely that the nest was in the Meare Heath wood, I reckon.
In general Meare Heath isn’t very good for bumblebees except along the track through the woods up to Meare Heath hide. Out on the tracks through the dugout peat beds the only flowers are patches of comfrey and quantities of willow. It could be a good area for nests - there are plenty of holes in the banks.
We were returning from doing water vole surveys further up the track and ironically, I’d just said to my companion that I didn’t expect to see many more bumblebees this year (except for a few pascuorum)!
01 October 2014 08:24 PM #25
Thanks for your reply. From your description of the site and the fact that several queens were foraging at the same time I would agree with you that it is most likely that this second generation nest was in a hollow tree. This contrasts with the situation in early spring. Queens emerging form hibernation forage on cultivated flowers in gardens when there are very few wild flowers available in the open countryside. They then tend to nest in houses, buildings, nest boxes, etc. It may be that they exploit the warmth and shelter of a house, roof space, etc to get the nest off to an early start.
Recent B.hypnorum activity quickly declined here quickly with the last queen seen on Tuesday 23 Sept. No further activity was seen until today. At midday and early this afternoon there were two B.hypnorum queens foraging together on symphoricarpus in bright warm sunshine!
1 October 2014
05 October 2014 09:43 AM #26
Two more hypnorum queens on Shapwick Heath NNR on Thursday 2nd October, about a mile apart: one on the hay meadows and one near where I found my previous ones (Meare Heath wood). They’re leaving it rather late to start hibernating.
05 October 2014 04:54 PM #27
On Oct 3rd a Hypnorum Queen exploring the guttering of our garage (West Suffolk). As I watched she got tangled in a large spider’s web from which I had to release her- she flew off unharmed.
05 October 2014 07:59 PM #28
Hello James and Kit
Another interesting observation James especially as the two queens you saw on 2 Oct were a mile apart. I think that the stimulus to hibernate will not be calendar date (ie day length) but availability of suitable flowers and air temperature. New queens emerging late from second generation nests will be desperate to build up their fat store before they hibernate.
Recently I have had two queens (one with a ginger thorax and the other dark) nectaring on symphoricarpus (Oct 1, 2,3). Nothing on Saturday due to cold and rain. Today (Oct 5) the dark queen was back again for a short time in mid-afternoon. It was sunny but the air temperature (~14C) was about 5 deg C lower than last week.
SteveF (NE Hants)
5 Oct 2014
26 October 2014 11:54 PM #29
Had a surprise today - there was a Bombus hypnorum queen foraging the Fuchsia magellanica. I haven’t seen one for some time now. Bombus pascuorum like foraging the F. magellanica flowers too.
27 October 2014 09:37 PM #30
On Saturday 25 Oct we saw 3 queen Bombus hypnorum during a walk in Windsor Great Park (Berks/Surrey border) over a period of about an hour and a half. The first was nectaring on a very large bush of Mahonia x media “Underway” which is already in full flower. The second was resting on winter heather Erica x darleyensis “Kramers Rote” which had a few early flowers already open. The third was nectaring on another large Mahonia bush. These three sites were scattered over a distance of about 500 metres. Mostly rather cloudy with a few sunny intervals and rather cool.
There were also a few Bombus pascuorum, quite a lot of late Bombus terrestris workers or males, and several B.terrestris queens. These were nearly all nectaring on either various Mahonias or on heathers. The very mild autumn weather seems to be helping to extend the normal nesting season. It is also encouraging the early flowering of Mahonia x media, winter heathers and gorse.
Today I have seen a couple of B.pascuorum and a couple of B.terrestris ( workers/males) again on Mahonia . (NE Hants).
27 Oct 2014