Working at our community woodland today, checking recently planted trees and removing tree guards - we were dismayed to find many instances of dead bumblebees inside the guards. We also have a problem with ants nests inside the guards - could there be a link? Or did the bumblebees get trapped inside the guards? Has anyone else encountered this problem? We’re puzzled!
I’m sure that I’m not the only person who has been intrigued by your Post, but perhaps the other readers are too shy to comment !
What you describe is distinctly concerning, since Tree Guards must be in common use.
I have some questions which might allow us to understand the issue in more depth:-
Were the dead bees all queen-size, or did the size vary appreciably ?
Did they still have any body fur on them that would allow identification ?
And did you keep any of the corpses ?
And were you able to get any photos ?
And how many years had the tree guards been in place before they were removed ?
Looking forward to hearing from you/
We were working with a large number of volunteers, so didn’t log the details systematically. I think all the corpses were found in the tree guards that also contained ants nests (these were full of soil) but I can’t be sure. Most still had fur, so were identifiable, but we didn’t keep or photo any of them at the time. One theory is that the bees died in the normal way and the ants carried them into the nest. Since the discovery we’ve decided to look at the situation more scientifically and log the details of each case we find, with photos, etc, so I will post again with more details when we’ve done that.
This sounds fascinating - and logging/building some data would be ideal.
Dr Nikki Gammans, who is leading the re-introduction of B. subterraneus (the short-haired bumblebee) and who is linked with BBCT and Hymettus has previously been involved with rare ants. It might be worth getting her to comment.
I’ll try and draw her attention to this thread.
I look forward to hearing when you’ve got some facts and figures !