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Share your stories and anecdotes about bumblebees

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In my latest blog entry on the website, I mentioned some of the stories people have have shared with me about bumblebees. Has anyone got anything interesting to tell us? Share it here!

     
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Hi all.

Until 3 years ago, i like most people was absolutely terrified of bees and wasps. I suppose it’s because we know they can sting and automatically think that they will sting!

I would run if a bumble came near me. Then one spring day, i saw a huge bumble crawling on the ground. I watched it for a while and felt sad for it. Without thinking too much, i put my hand on the ground in front of it and it crawled onto my hand!

It was a Queen and she was cold and hungry. I held her for about 5 minutes, then put her on my buddleia bush. I went inside and made up some sugar water, which i dripped onto the buddleia leaf in front of her and out came her tongue and she lapped it up.

She stayed for about 15 minutes and then flew away. I was so amazed that i had touched a bee. Then realised she could’ve stung me many times if she wanted to but didn’t. That encounter changed my view on bumble’s and despite holding many bumble’s since, i have never been stung by one.

They are just not interested in stinging. I liken bumble’s to labrador’s and wasps to rotweillers!!!!

Bumble’s are beautiful, gentle insects and i love them dearly.

     
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Thanks for your essay.  See here for a compilation of bumble bee information - mostly cultural stuff - myths/story/ etc I have written about Humble bees: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.335264576508128.87761.318530098181576&type=3

     
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What a lovely story alibumble! Was that the start of your love for bees? I can’t remember how I felt about them when I was younger, and I first got ‘into’ bees when I studied them for my bachelor’s degree research project - that’s when I was bitten (stung?) by the bee bug, and since then I’ve been hooked!

     
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Thanks Ethnobeeology - there really is so much to learn about the cultural associations with bumblebees, i am sure that I’ll be using that information for future posts!

     
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Thanks Anthony! Yes that’s when i realised that although bumble’s can sting, they don’t want to. They are gentle insects and i am bumble addicted as a result grin

     
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anthony_bbct - 19 July 2012 11:03 AM

I first got ‘into’ bees when I studied them for my bachelor’s degree research project - that’s when I was bitten (stung?) by the bee bug, and since then I’ve been hooked!

My story is very similar - we studied foraging patterns in a solitary bee, Anthophora plumipes in a feeding on Cerinthe flowers in a drainage ditch in Portugal for two weeks, catching bees and marking them with opalithplatchen and then recording where they went.

That’s then grown in to a general love of bumble and solitary bees - oddly I’m not so fond of honey bees, which is a bit strange but there we go.

I’d love to be able to encourage more A. plumipes in my garden - any tips from anyone?

     
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Hi Malcolm, A. plumipes absolutely adores Lungwort, Pulmonaria. I watched the bees on my 3 Pulmonaria all spring. Loads of plumipes were on them every day! I even saw a male stalking a female through the stems and then pouncing on her several times!! It was so cute and funny..

I had never noticed these specific bees before but they were adorable and fun to watch and very fast fliers. Hope this helps.

     
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Once you have found a way of attracting them into the garden - with Pulmonaria as suggested by alibumble, perhaps the next step is to provide good nesting sites.  I have been reliably advised that most of the commercial ones using cut bamboo canes are a good basic idea but the holes in the canes are far too big.  They can be expensive too.  I guess that the resulting newly hatched bees next year will start foraging nearby and use the nest site again. 

Sparrow - Sue

     
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Thanks both!

I have seen A. plumipes on Pulmonaria, I also grow Cerinthe for them to use later in the year but I don’t see them so much by then. Not sure what to do in between the two - Comfrey, maybe?

I have a feeling that A. plumipes mostly nest in mud banks, which is more than a little tricky to provide [pause for research]...

...From BWARS (http://www.bwars.com/index.php?q=bee/apidae/anthophora-plumipes):

Usually nests gregariously in vertical soil profiles, such as coastal cliffs and, inland, in sand pits, soft mortar joints and cob walls. Such sites are used annually, so that with time and erosion old cells are occasionally brought to the surface. Individual cells are pitcher-shaped, the walls and closing lid being fashioned from compacted soil which is almost certainly impregnated with a secretion from the Dufour’s gland. When excavated the cells can be readily extracted from the surrounding substrate. Both sexes pass the winter newly emerged in their sealed cells. Nest construction and provisioning is described by Malyshev (1928) and Lith (1947). Müller, Krebs & Amiet (1997) illustrate both nests and their contents.

     
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I think i read that they are not seen after end of May early June. I certainly haven’t seen any since beginning of June. Missing them actually.

     
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Malcolm - 20 July 2012 03:57 PM
anthony_bbct - 19 July 2012 11:03 AM

I first got ‘into’ bees when I studied them for my bachelor’s degree research project - that’s when I was bitten (stung?) by the bee bug, and since then I’ve been hooked!

My story is very similar - we studied foraging patterns in a solitary bee, Anthophora plumipes in a feeding on Cerinthe flowers in a drainage ditch in Portugal for two weeks, catching bees and marking them with opalithplatchen and then recording where they went.

That’s then grown in to a general love of bumble and solitary bees - oddly I’m not so fond of honey bees, which is a bit strange but there we go.

I’d love to be able to encourage more A. plumipes in my garden - any tips from anyone?

Great tips there from alibumble and Sparrow. That’s what I would have suggested as well (especially pulmonaria). We don’t get that bee up here in chilly Scotland though, so I was delighted to see it when visiting the team near Southampton! We caught males and females, they’re such nice bees!

I feel the same about honeybees - they just haven’t captured my imagination the same way as bumblebees and solitary bees have. Still, I do like honey!

     
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Hi Malcolm just to let you know Plumipes like Comfrey

Loving all your stories on here smile

I was very similar to Alibumble, anything buzzing made me jump a mile so I started getting to know my “Fears” I really enjoy photographing Bees and other insects although I’m still very apprehensive about wasps.

     
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I’ve been a bumblebee obssessive ever since we had a terrestris nest in our compost bin a few years ago. It was the ‘garden event of the year’ and made me think much more about the plants I was growing in the garden. They became ‘our bees’ and we felt both protective and honoured that the Queen had chosen our garden as a suitable home.

With the dreadful summer we had this year I’d become very concerned that the bees might suffer and go hungry…so I decided to make a bumblebee feeder (/paddling pool). I used an old plastic flower pot saucer and cut large petals out of old coloured plastic document folders, stapling them around the outside, secured the ‘flower’ to the top of a dowel then popped an old Chinese take-away sauce pot lid into the centre to cover the staples. I made ‘nectar by boiling up equal quantities of caster sugar with rose-water. Once cool I poured it into the middle saucer…. popped it into the flower border and stepped back…convinced that I had provided a lovely nectary banquet for my visitors.


They studiously ignored it…the ants LOVED it….*sigh* but it was an interesting exercise…and I’m sure that the bees knew I meant well…

     

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Cheerypeabrain - 01 September 2012 07:28 PM

I’m sure that the bees knew I meant well…

That made me laugh!

     
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hmph…..it’s coming out when I take the annuals out in a few weeks time. I may trawl the web for a more likely substitute because I do like the idea of providing a bumblebee feeder in the garden as a suplement to the flowers…