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We often see bumblebees as they fly past us on their busy schedules. Sometimes you can find them right under your nose in compost heaps, under sheds or under brick walls of a house. To find a wild nest is a little harder as those who have tried will know! I have found several over the years in the wild, though it is usually in mid summer, when their numbers are greater and the chance to find a nest entrance is a little easier. This is the earliest I have ever found one. This is my diary of events that led to me finding this particular nest, at Gorse Covert, Warrington….see below for video
20th April ….about 50 yards along another path from the path I use for my bee walk. I was walking slowly, stopping occasionally and scanning the area. Being so many primroses there I though would be a great place to have a nest founded by a queen who would need a food resource nearby. There were dead logs and dense vegetation with small mounds covered with vegetation. A very small worker B. terrestris/lucorum? was feeding upon clump of primroses densely growing some 5 feet away from a public footpath hidden amongst dead logs, brambles etc. I watched it feed and then saw it disappear into what was then the clump of dead branches and bramble. above. I waited quite some time and it did not reappear. Suspected I may have found a nest.
24th April..revisited and waited some time in general area…..saw a small worker disappear down a clump of logs as above but could not see where exactly. Waited a while…no signs of others leaving…..weather not too good, so I moved on.
Very wet, damp cold weather for some days now.
2 May revisited, waited and waited, saw a small worker disappear down a hole….waited… a small worker left about 10 mins later…..then waited and a very large bumble appeared and was about to fly into hole and with me being there decided to fly off. A large bumblebee returned 10 minutes later and again I was too close. Moved out of flight path..15 mins later a large bumblebee laden with pollen disappeared down exactly same hole as I had seen worker enter and leave. I am assuming this was the queen still tending to her very small colony….no further bees entered or left, getting too cold. This one episode took about 35 mins! Took photos, missed out re videos, had to remain still for far too long in between any activity! Will film when (if, weather had turned bad again) numbers increase. It gives me a buzz to find a wild nest!! Observation skills and patience is what you need. Plus time!
6 May..waited 30 mins for a few seconds of film. Worth it though! More video to follow as I film the life of this colony.
I am available to give talks on the ecology of bumblebees and solitary bees. 01925 452819
For more information and to help save bumblebees join the Bumblebee Conservation Trust at Stirling University.