Bumblebee queen searching for a nest site
How can you tell when bumblebee queens are looking for a nest site and not just foraging? One of the main visible clues is her behaviour and the fact that she has no pollen inside her pollen baskets. If she does she has already started on an actual nest.
This queen is showing typical nest seeking behaviour, low buzzing sound when in flight, flying just above the ground in a zig zag fashion then dropping to the floor to investigate a hole that caught her attention and crawling into it. Wished she would come to my garden, where there have not been as many bumblebees as last year searching, possibly due to strange weather patterns we have just had. By 3 April last year I had 3 queens volunteer to use my nest boxes!
You quickly learn to get fine tuned to the sound of a queen nest site searching, you often hear the sound well before you see her, as she makes a low buzzing followed by a ‘buzz ump!’ as she lands and it goes silent. Filmed using an iPhone 4s on 31/3/12.
For more information and to help save bumblebees join the Bumblebee Conservation Trust at Stirling University.