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Dead queens inside an artificial nest box.


Total Posts: 99

Joined 2013-06-13


I thought you maybe interested in the attached photograph.
This is the inside of a schwegler overground box which had been occupied by a B.terrestris. The nest went on to be successful and produce males and queens.
I was amazed to find 10 dead queens in the nest, which I presume were the results of fights.
I find once a queen bumblebee has occupied a nest box that this seems to attract other queens, possibly by their scent (?)  I also know that some species, especially B.terrestris try to usurp established queens, and possibly this is part of the reason why there are so many dead queens.
This was a colony from 2012.

Has anyone seen dead queens inside nest boxes ?



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Total Posts: 321

Joined 2012-05-24


Hi Kevin,

What a fascinating photo !

Not in nest boxes, but sometimes in natural colonies that I have moved.
And only one or two I think.

I think you will find details of such a scenario in Prys-Jones & Corbet’s book, Bumblebees; and in Dave Gouls0n’s A Sting in the Tale.


PS.  An Edited Update of my original comments.
Just because a colony has dead queens in it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have all come from attempted supersedure of the resident queen.
A colony can also run out of food / foragers once new queens have been produced, but before they have mated and hibernated.  In such circumstances you might find several dead queens in the box which have nothing to do with supersedure.  And I guess these would look fresh, with unworn wings and fur.