05 May 2014 06:06 PM
Hi, this weekend I noticed that we’ve gained some little guests in our fairly recently build extension. The first I think are a type of Tree Bumblebee, which is nesting in the wall behind our security light. (Images attached to this post)
The other(s) are nesting in the weep vents above the kitchen window (~0.5m from the BB nest). Not sure if it’s common for these to nest so closely. I’m not sure if these are a type of solitary bee. Maybe you could help to confirm? (will create a new post, assuming I can add images to that second post)
Whilst it’s great to have another pet in the house, longer term I’d rather not have them, especially since it’s by a kitchen Window, and outside bbq, I see there could be problems ahead. I assume I should wait till Autumn and close up the holes to discourage their return in spring?
Anyway confirmation on the types would be of interest.
05 May 2014 06:10 PM #1
06 May 2014 09:19 AM #2
Welcome to the forum,
1. Your first “guests” are social Bombus hypnorum - Tree Bumbles [brown thorax, black abdomen with a white tail]. The queen has chosen to start her nest in your extension [Tree bumbles seem to like high places] and her developing colony will be your guests until the autumn - but in the meantime, the workers will be doing an excellent job pollinating the apple blossom in your garden. When there is no further activity in the autumn - that is the time to block the entrance hole.
2. Your second “guest” looks like a solitary Red Mason Bee Osmia bicornis female [was O. rufa], checking out potential nesting places in the large unfilled gaps in the mortar/wall surrounding the ventilation block. [These are one of the bee species that use the tubes in commercial bee boxes; or chopped up bamboo canes]. The male’s sole role before they die, is to mate with the females when they emerge in Spring; and it is the female that does all the work creating her brood cells. She will first collect mouthfuls of mud to line her cell. She then collects and stocks the cell with a dollop of pollen - then lays an egg on it - then seals the cell with more mud - and repeats the sequence again until she has filled the cavity with cells or used up all her fertilised eggs. Then she will die - solitary bees do not live to see their offspring. Next years generation depends on the success of this years females. Choices for you to make:- If you fill the mortar gaps now before she really gets started, then you will prevent her from nesting there but she will find another hole somewhere else . However, if you wait until later on, you will block in the brood cells that she has spent her life constructing, and the occupants in the cells will die as well and there will be no bees develop for next year. You could put up a bee box or a bundle of bamboo canes nearby as an alternative for her & other solitary bees to use. These bees are also very good at pollinating fruit blossoms. It is fascinating watching them at work.
07 May 2014 11:18 AM #3
I agree with the diagnosis above.
If you want to learn more about your Tree Bumblebee colony, take a look at the link below.
14 May 2014 11:35 AM #4
I wholly agree too.
Just wanted to add that although all female bees bear a sting, I believe that solitary bees are so small that the sting hardly penetrates human skin.
Also once out of the nest they aren’t in the least aggressive.
I doubt they would cause any trouble.
And the adult stage doesn’t live for very long at all and they are excellent pollinators of fruiting trees.
Nice images, elaine
14 May 2014 07:38 PM #5
Thanks to all the information on your site I have now identified the colony of bees which have moved into the soffit at the top of my house gable end as tree bumble bees. They exhibit all the behaviour mentioned on your info link. I had collected some smaller bees which had dropped onto the decking ready to take for identification but don’t,t need to now.
What do I do at the end of Summer to stop them returning to the same space?
15 May 2014 11:23 AM #6
If you can wait until they finish their life cycle, which is relatively short for Tree bees, often they finish by end of July, then you just need to find the holes/cracks where they have gotten access to the soffit.
You can block these holes up after you have removed any nest debris and that way new queens won’t be able to enter there next spring.
This might be awkward to do as it is at the top of the house but it is the best way that I can think of.
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