I love this time of year – for many reasons – not least, the bees all start getting buzzy – and I do love my bees!
I’ve been spending a few minutes/hours (who’s counting?!) watching the red mason bees
...emerge from my bee hotels and the tawny (and other) mining bees dig their nests into our fast-drying soil and collect pollen and nectar from the spring flowers in the garden.
I’ve also stumbled across a queen tree bumblebee – who had clearly been interested in starting her nest in our kitchen wall. She probably already had started to be honest, before I spied her crawling into a hole in the outside wall where a water pipe emerges from the kitchen, to take water to our washing machine (in an out-building) off our
back side passage.
And this is the sad tale I suppose.
She could have started her nest ANYWHERE else as far as I’m concerned (we’ve had tree bumblebee nests at the house for most of the 7 years that we’ve been here – and almost always in the roof.
But to start a nest in the walls of our
back side passage (and kitchen), right beside our back door and where we walk every day, many times – well – I can’t really have that I’m afraid.
You see I’ve watched a good dozen or so tree bumblebee nests over the last decade or so and all are really quite obvious -much more so than “normal” bumblebee nests, to “normal people” (without my particular awareness).
Firstly, tree bumblebees, as opposed to normal bumblebees will nest above the ground (in a roof space, in a bird box, in… errr… a tree!).
Secondly there will be a visible, constant stream of bees in and out of the nest entrance (which is often visible as a hole in a wall, or nest box or tree etc).
Lastly (but not, urm… leastly), there are very often what appear to be sentry bees hovering around the entrance of the nest. Hornet nests have this sort of system too, but that’s well documented – I suspect the tree bumblebee nest sentries aren’t really sentries at all to be fair, but normal worker bees about to go into the nest (and stacked up in the skies like a busy day above Heathrow).
As many readers of this blog that know me might appreciate – I’m hardly one to get hysterical about this sort of thing – I warned some colleagues at work just the other day about their nascent and unnecessary hysteria with regards to the TERRIBLE THREAT (*sigh*) of Asian hornets and our house walls here are covered in the EEEEVIL Segestria florentina funnel web spiders and DEADDDDLYYYYY False widows.
I’m also keen to get the boy onside pronto too – I would rather not have any of my offspring grow up in the traditional (and dare I say… pathetic?) way of being pretty-well petrified of anything that moves.
He’s lucky in that respect I think (our son). He has a “head of biology” for a mother and a father with a pretty superb knowledge of British wildlife and the eyes and ears to notice the wildlife too (I am not surprised for a second that I spotted the tree bumblebee yesterday entering her nest via a hole in my back, sorry side passage – and I wouldn’t be surprised if no-one else WOULD notice that sort of thing).
I texted my wife (well… I “whatsapped” her to be exact) and explained that I had considered this pretty carefully and decided that in order to avoid a
back side-passage full of tree bumblebees this summer (potentially defending their nest against our cats and our constantly-passing-shins), I’d have to wait until the queen came back OUT of her hole – and then block the entrance to the nest with a paper towel.
Neither my wife nor I were particularly happy with this (the queen tree bumblebee may have already started her nest in earnest (“her nest in earnest” – nice choice of words there -ED) inside the walls – but it was act now or regret it later.
So, block it I did, when she emerged, yesterday
And the poor queen has been trying to get back in a number of times – I wonder if she’s already laid eggs in the wall cavity?
The deed is done now. And this sad tale is almost over.
I just hope she finds the energy, eggs and time to find another nest site in or around our house
If she’s reading this, might I suggest our old great tit box, which although acting as a winter shelter for a male great tit this year, seems destined to NOT act as a great tit nest site this spring.
Or failing that… ‘owz about the roof again? Served you little bees OK last year?
Wherever you want, Queen bee.
Just NOT in my
back side passage!
Again, all photos on this blog post were (of course?!) taken by me.