A queen B. hypnorum has taken up residence in one of my bird nesting boxes this year. At first I was rather annoyed at being deprived of the enjoyment of watching the great tits raising a brood (the box is fitted with an internal camera); but I’m now looking upon it as an opportunity to learn about a whole new wildlife subject; the life cycle of a bumble bee.
At present the queen is all on her own…she comes and goes, and when in the nest spends most of her time buried in the old bird-nesting material in the bottom; I’m hoping that as her colony grows I shall be able to see more of what is going on than I can at present. Does anyone know if the internal lighting will cause the bees to remain hidden away, or will it not bother them? (The lighting is on during daylight hours, but automatically dims out when darkness falls, and then switches to infra-red during the night).
I suppose I could switch the power off when I’m not actually watching, but as the switch in out in the garage this would be rather inconvenient: I prefer to watch in the comfort of my lounge!
Any updates from the camera nest box ? is the queen still in there ?
Keep an eye out to see if any other queens enter the box as I had two other B.hypnorum queens enter a nest box already occupied. See my post under B.hypnorum 2014 notes.
Hope to construct a camera nest box for next year - too late now.
The colony has begun to grow: at least two workers now active for the last week. Interestingly, they appear to have different characters! The larger one habitually flies up from the nest to the exit hole when going out to forage; the smaller one always crawls up. Both are bringing pollen into the nest, and the queen appears to have stopped foraging for herself.
Still little to see as the real action is buried in the nesting material. I hope as the colony grows it will spill out so that I can see more of what is going on.
Have not noticed any other queens trying to usurp the resident.
Fascinating stuff! What an opportunity. Keep us posted.
One of the nest boxes in my garden that I saw a queen B. hypnorum enter a while back, doesn’t seem to have any further activity. However, there is a nest somewhere nearby, because the local B. hypnorum workers are busily pollinating my cordon apple blossom - with visits in between to green alkanet.
I have two other nest boxes occupied with blue tits - and great tits are in the box used by B. hypnorum last year [I forgot to clean it out].
Many thanks for telling us about this colony.
If you dig back into last summer’s Posts we had reports about a B. hypnorum colony that had taken over a Bird Box fitted with a camera. (And my memory tells me that the queen had evicted the Blue Tits.)
The camera output was eventually linked up to be available to see on the internet, but when I tried watching there was much static nest material and not very many bee activities to see - so I suspect that the colony never got very big.
I think it will be OK to leave the light on. It might take a few hours for the bees to become used to it, but once some are habituated it should just become a fact of life for the colony. (Honey bee observation hives are perfectly OK with being in the light - and they too are cavity nesters.)
I will edit this post later to add a link to last year’s “camera-fitted B. hypnorum colony” records in the Forum.
Here is a link to last year’s posts on this topic.
They are in the Tree Bumblebee 2013 thread.
Update. Following Clive’s detailed advice on entering the nest box to re-focus the camera we gave it a try on at about 11pm Saturday night. Armed with Red light, and a sponge to block the nest box entry/exit hole I successfully placed the sponge in place. Monitoring the camera from inside I got the message on the radio ‘all clear’. I’m still trying to work out why it was me on the front line and my good wife sat in the light and warm doing the monitoring?!
Left it for about a ¼ of an hour and went back to gently undo the catch locking the lid down on the box. Woops, I was very gentle but I could hear the buzzing at the same time as I got the message ‘there are loads all coming to the top of the nest’. I made sure the latch was firmly locked and retreated.
½ hour later I went back and gingerly retrieved the sponge, no movement, peering inside the hole I could see spiders web which looked like that may be playing part of the problem to the ‘focus’ issue. A very thin stick and very carefully I managed to get the web to wrap round the stick and carefully pull it out. That seemed to solve most of the problem so now our buzzy friends are not quiet so blurred now!
Up until then it only ever looked like there were about 3 or 4 workers in there and the queen. Clearly that isn’t the case as we guessed that we could see at least a dozen in my failed attempt to undo the catch. As you can imagine we are very pleased.
Okay, I mentioned in an earlier post that we were supposed to be upgrading the cameras etc. last year but didn’t manage it. Yesterday I sat and tried to work out a way of getting some software that we used until last year to function in modern browsers so that we could share what we are seeing. This morning I managed to find a way to fix it hopefully until the nest is finished with. I apologise for the slight out of focus view, I did try, ‘onest guv, but anyone that would like to take a look here’s a direct link: http://www.dolphi.co.uk/webcams/cam1.htm
I hope that link works, if not copy and paste to your browser.