Tuesday, 25 June 2013

THE HEEBIE TREE BEES


Have you encountered them in your garden? Tree bumble bees (Bombus hypnorum) are a good news story in pollinating insect circles. They are new to our shores, first observed in the UK on July 17th in 2001. Unlike some other species they are thriving, spreading fast and they look like this.
     

Ginger thorax, black abdomen and white tail.

The trouble is, we have a nest of them in an air brick next to the path to all those things in the garden that we have to visit frequently. (Thank goodness we no longer use the outside privy!) As we have learned, the tree bumble bee defends its nest in a very pro-active manner. When disturbed, a posse of very aggressive workers emerges from the air brick and dive-bombs us.
   

Wikipedia says,"They may well sting unprovoked." Help!


The bees love our pesticide-free cottage garden flowers.


When Mr N returned from his bike ride this afternoon I listed my heroic deeds,
"I've pegged the washing out, put the rubbish in the dustbin, taken delivery of a new compost bin and set it up, cut the grass, trimmed some trees and bushes, filled the garden waste bin, picked some herbs for dinner, brought the washing in, swept the garden paths - all while risking guerrilla bee attacks!"
"Oh, stop whinging," he said, "You just did it for the buzz..."

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29 comments:

  1. Hahaha.

    I never do anything in the garden because we don't have one. I don't do much in the house either but that's another story.

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    1. I have to admit I don't like doing anything in the garden(or house)that smacks of drudgery - I try to keep the chores lightweight & - if possible - fun.

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  2. I am glad you have lots of bees, but not fun to have to wear a beekeepers hat to do your yard chores. Your flower borders are gorgeous! I see we have some of the same plants, but your borders are much more lush.

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    1. It's lush because I only grow native perennials that thrive on our thin sandy soil - the neighbours gardens are like deserts! This keeps the garden chores down and suits pollinating insects too!

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  3. I forgot to ask............what about your native honey bees.......are you seeing many of those?

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    1. Yes, we have those too and quite a few other species.

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  4. It's good to hear that some bee species are thriving, even if that does mean you are facing almost insurmountable problems when going about your normal daily chores. I think I would be searching out a complete bee keeper's outfit just to hang out the washing. Your cottage garden flowers looks gorgeous...no wonder the bees have decided to make this their home. Jx

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    1. If it gets any worse there are a couple of other routes around other people's houses and gardens - but this does seem a bit much!

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  5. Lots of bees in our garden but they seem to be quite gentle. I shall examine them this evening to see if they are wearing a little ginger wrap ...

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    1. Ha Ha! These are no bother around the garden, but the "guards" do a crazy, threatening dance around the nest entrance - and it's at head height!

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  6. Yes, I have them in my pesticide free garden too; I hadn't realised that they sting even if unprovoked - I am allergic to Honeybee stings so need to do some investigation. Not many Honeybees this year, I hope that they are surviving elsewhere.

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    1. My friend was stung by one of these yesterday (not in my garden!) and found it differs in several ways to a honey bee sting - not quite as painful, no sting left behind and no swelling, despite the fact that she has allergies. But it's worth finding out more.

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  7. A laugh out loud moment Nilly and as always a very interesting post. x

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    1. I think these little critters have just reached Northumberland, Jayne...

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  8. I wonder if this is the species that my mum said had suddenly appeared in her gardent - well, nesting in her roof, actually. As Janice says, it's good to hear that there are still bees about but I wonder if these are the 'right sort of bees'...as a wise old Pooh once said?
    Lovely cottage garden you have! I think I would have been a little 'stung' by Mr N's remark on all your hard and brave work.
    Axxx

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    1. I should think these are the ones your mum has noticed - they are thriving! We have another nest at the front of the house but too high up to be a nuisance - and, yes, they do their pollinating job very diligently. I've lots of herbs about to flower which they'll love - not to mention the clover I encourage on the "lawn".
      As for Mr N - he IS a Yorkshireman!

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  9. Will have to look out for those tree bees... Can't say I have studied them too closely.
    As for Mr N, I have a vintage "swatter".... Metal mesh and leather should you ever need it.....
    Julie x

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    1. Sounds just the thing - as long as he doesn't enjoy it too much!

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  10. And to think, I thought you were a modern blooming woman Nilly. All the while Mr N was out free as a bird cycling the lanes and enjoying himself, you were slaving like a worker bee. Does he know I wonder what happens to the drones come late summer?

    Love your garden.

    LLX

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    1. It goes without saying that Mr N is a bit of a one-off - that's why I love him! And he does do his bit - hedge-cutting etc. as well as being very good to his three WSS's.
      The cycling is good for his cardiovascular health - at least that's what he tells me...

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  11. Anonymous30 June, 2013

    We have 2 tree bee nests this year, one is unfortunately in an inaccessible (for me) part of the loft, and the other which is more active is in a single-storey brick built wood-shed in the back garden. I cannot actually see either of the 2 nests. The bees don't attack me, but Personally I would rather they weren't there as it is daunting trying to use the outside garden room with about a 100 bees wizzing round your head and I think visitors would feel greatly at risk. I tried to deter the bees from using the wood store but they were not moved from their intent and no amount of flailing arms stopped them from continuing to presumably build their nest. DWJ

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    1. This is exactly our problem - and we also have a second nest in the roof. I wish you luck!

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  12. We've had two lots in our garden bird boxes last year but they "dissapeared" after a couple of months. Being wary of their aggression, I opened the bird box. Inside was a smallish nest of individual cells but it was all covered by a thick sticky mass. This was identified as a wax moth cocoon, bright green grubs could be seen crawling around.

    When the next lot came, we watched as they attacked a " normal" bumble bee driving it to the ground where they wrestled for a bit, eventually the "normal" bumble bee flew up with a tree bee still clinging to its back!
    This year no tree bees in our garden but next door has some in their roof!

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    1. Very interesting John - are going to investigate ours when the season is over. We haven't noticed any nest in our neighbours gardens so it must be our flowers that attract them. I WON'T let it put me off growing them!

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  13. Ivie Tilling22 July, 2013

    We too have a nest of tree bees in one of our nest boxes, usually taken over by Great Tits, who lost the battle this year. They have pollinated our raspberries and blackberries very well and have never acted aggressively, in spite of a shed door being just below their box and subject to a bit of vibration each time we open the door. Just this last week, in intense heat, their numbers seem to have dropped dramatically, but there are still a few flying in and out. How long do they normally stay in the nest and when would it be safe for us to clean the box out?

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    1. I'm not sure Ivie but ours are still about and rather bad-tempered, still zooming in on me when I go by. At least they are keen to escape when they fly in through the windows! The biggest are HUGE!

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  14. Tree Bumblebees suddenly appeared at our cottage and at next door a couple of years ago. I had to research to find out what type of bee that they were. They were so interesting and never gave any cause for alarm even though they nested close to us under our red clay roof tiles. They made their nests using mud from our pond. Sadly they have not returned. I hope they do one day.

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