With all the recent flooding across the Uk, my mind turned to the plight of the hibernating Queens who cannot respond to this threat.
So i thought about how many hibernating Queen’s were being drowned and whether or not thi would have a big impact on bee populations this spring and summer.
If your area of the country has standing water in park, fields, gardens etc, could you please put down here what area of the country you are in, town or village and how long the standing water remains.
Then return to this thread in spring/summer and let us know if bee numbers are less than last year or about the same.
What does everyone else think? I am convinced many Queens are being drowned all over the Uk due to the flooding.
This is a subject that has given me food for thought too. I hope “Head Office” will see this and follow it up perhaps by including a piece in the next Newsletter.
Luckily, in my particular patch of South Oxfordshire” there is no flooding although nearer to the Thames just up the road there are serious problems, although I do have to worry about the effects of oil seed rape in the field at the bottom of the garden.
Best wishes to all for a great BB year, despite the floods.
Sparrow - Sue
Thank you for your reply Sue
good question, alibumble. I have asked around the office, and none of us are aware of any research that has been done into the effects of flooding on hibernating bumblebees. I think it’s fair to say that any queens caught under water for a while will probably die. However, most bumblebees choose to hibernate in sites which are less likely to flood (not that they are necessarily doing this to avoid being submerged, there are probably lots of factors at work). Here is a passage from the book ‘Bumblebees’ by D.V. Alford:
‘Banks and lightly wooded slopes with a north or north-west exposure are favourite sites for hibernating bumblebees…The situations in which bumblebees hibernate are typically well-drained. However, very dry soil which, for example, often occurs next to the boles of very large trees, is avoideed, possibly because of the dangers of desiccation, but probably also since it is unlikely that a suitable hibernaculum could be hollowed out where the soil is too dry and loose.’
As flooding is a natural (if inconvenient to us!) event, I reckon that bumblebees have evolved behaviours to avoid being submerged while hibernating, so hopefully most will be safe.
Hi Alibumble & Sparrow,
I suppose the only way we’ll know for sure whether flooding affects this year’s bumble population, is for everyone to keep a regular diary in 2013, noting what bumble species we see and what they are doing [queen searching for potential nest site, workers with pollen load], date, weather/temperature, where [grid ref/post code], which flowers are available for foraging [which can vary by as much as 3 weeks from year to year]; and compare to last year if you have that information [or if you are new to this, then make 2013 a baseline for future surveys]. My study site is my city garden in VC55, and I have a fixed transect around the garden available to walk every day just outside the back door. Luckily my area doesn’t flood but the water table is close to surface at present, the soil is mostly clay and I get slight surface run-off from the gardens up slope. Luckily, the bumbles that have nested in my garden sensibly choose bird boxes above the ground, that I forgot to clean out! I even had Bombus hypnorum in 2012.
‘bye for now,
Thanks so much Anthony and urbanbumble for your informative replies. Excellent idea urbanbumble for keeping records, i will use my garden for a transect this year and i hope the bumble’s will survive, i couldn’t live without their little furry faces