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Bombus hypnorum worker fanning nest

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Joined 2014-09-21

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Hallo All

I have had a Bombus hypnorum nest in a bird box fixed under the eaves of the house.  The nest is now in decline but there are a few workers still active.  The nest box faces south east and catches the morning sunshine from dawn till about 10:30.  After that it is in the shade of the house.  During the recent heatwave it must have become very hot during the first part of the day.  On Monday morning (19 June 2017) I noticed that there was a worker sitting on the edge of the entrance hole facing outwards rapidly fanning its wings.  It continued doing this for several minutes.  There was a loud audible hum. A quarter of an hour later there was another worker (possibly the same one or another) fanning its wings.  This was obviously being done to cool the nest the nest down by driving in outside air into the box.

Today has been very hot again and the air temperature in the shade during the late afternoon was about 30C.  By this time the box had been in the shade for about 6 hours.  However the nest was obviously too hot and several times there was a worker in the entrance hole facing outwards fanning their wings.

I have not observed this behaviour before in bumblebees, although I know that honey bees cool their hive by fanning their wings.

SteveF
21:00   Wed 21 June 2017
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Total Posts: 343

Joined 2013-01-10

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Hi SteveF,
My B.hyp. nest in the bird box has finished - no activity - didn’t see any similar activity to your “air conditioning” prior to this.
Urbanbumble

     
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Hi Steve, Urbanbumble

I had a hypnorum nest in a bird box and observed several workers at the entrance fanning during the warm weather. I have seen other species fanning during hot weather as well.
I had a camera in this nest box and noticed that many workers were fanning within the nest box, several just inside the entrance and 3 to 4 fanning over the nest material.
This nest was very active and busy but now unfortunately in just over a week is dead due to wax moth. Sad to see its decline and to see the wax moth but been able to do little about it. Unfortunately I do not think the colony had time to produce any young queens (although plenty of males waiting outside) !
I still have an active terrestris nest in an artificial box - just hoping the wax moth doesnt find this nest just yet.

Regards


Kevin

     
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Hallo Kevin

Thanks for your contribution.  (I’ve only just seen it).  Very interesting and informative.  You have the advantage of a camera in a bumblebee box.  Obviously fanning by workers is much more widespread than I had realised.  I think that I may have seen this behaviour by workers at the entrance to a nest box before but have not realised what was going on.  Damage to nests by wax moth seems to be quite common.  Last week I came across two B.lapidarius nests in close proximity which had very recently been dug out by badgers.

SteveF
5 July 2017
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