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Returning Bees

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Joined 2014-05-19

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Last year I had what I think were tree bees nesting in my loft. All of the advice I read on-line implied that the nest would die in August-September time, which it did.
I couldn’t see anything that looked like a nest until December when I had some work done in the loft that required the insulation to be moved. The nest was between two layers of insulation some way from where I think the bees were getting in.
I removed the nest along with the surrounding insulation which was all sticky.
This weekend I noticed several bees buzzing around the roof again in the same place as last year so I assume the nest is back. Is it possible I only removed part of the nest or are they building a whole new one? I am prepared to put up with them again this year as I appreciate that they are unlikely to harm me or damage the house. However as I am reluctant to open the window or go into the loft in case I antagonise them and they did make quite a mess of the insulation, I’d like some advise as to how to deter them in the future.

     
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Joined 2012-05-24

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Dear “Tig”,

Firstly, welcome to the Forum.

Secondly, thank you for your very useful observations on what a Tree Bumblebee nest in a loft-space is actually like.

We do know that buildings that have had TBB colonies in them one year can sometimes get colonies settle there in following years.  Also that you can get more than one colony in the same loft space.  (Yesterday I had an email from a man is Sussex who thinks his home has seven colonies in it this year - and wonders if it is a record !) 

TBB queens when they are nest prospecting will look for holes into a loft-space and I know a home where the same hole has been used for several years by them.  These will be all separate colonies each of which has run full cycle (like yours) and died out.  Perhaps the queens in later years are attracted by the residual scent of a former colony, but I very much doubt that they will re-use an old nest.  Nesting nearby though is perfectly feasible.  And we know that some nests are quite close to where the bees enter the building and that some will be much further away, so that the bees follow a “walkway” to their colony.

So, to directly answer some of your questions above:
It is a new colony.  Last year’s one totally died out. I don’t think they will damage your house. 
After the present colony has died out, you could block up the access hole: and this should make it much less likely that you will get a colony next year - unless the queen finds a new access hole !

If you want to access the loft, do it after dark and use red light to see, so that you can move around.  Rear cycle lights work well.

Please take a look at the article I wrote about these bees which is tucked away in the FAQs part of the About Bees part of they website.
It should answer most of your questions.
Here is a quick link to the article:
http://bumblebeeconservation.org/images/uploads/Tree_bee_article.pdf

The colony will probably die out naturally around the end of July.

Please come back to this thread if you need any further information !

And did you by any chance take a photo of the old nest that you removed ?  If so, please could you let us see it !

I hope the above helps.          Yours,      Clive

     
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Clive,

Thanks for your reply, the article was very interesting and informative.
On closer inspection I think there may be a second nest up there somewhere as I can see another group of bees buzzing about a different corner of the roof.
I’m afraid I didn’t take a picture of the last nest but if I manage to find this years I will definitely take and post a photo for you.  As I said, the last nest was between the layers of insulation and completely hidden from view so it was only located by accident but they had burrowed into the bottom layer and had made quite a sticky mess!  I’m unlikely to venture into the loft before they move on because as there was no evidence/suggestion the nest was there I’m worried in case I accidentally stand on it. I was surprised by how far it was from where I thought they were getting in, they must have had to fly or walk quite a way across the insulation so I wonder why they picked the spot they did.
Anyway, much as I like supporting the local wildlife, I will be trying to find and block any holes in the roof for next year!

     
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Total Posts: 269

Joined 2012-05-24

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Hi Tig,

In the dark bees always walk, not fly.
Someone last year told me he had bees following a “bee-walkway” for some distance across his loft to the nest.
Unfortunately I’ve lost access to those emails now, so can’t look it up again.
He did say that he might put the video clip on You Tube though, so it might be worth trying to track it down.

Yours,    Clive