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  1. #1
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    Default Bumbles in a birdhouse?

    I just received a call from a lady about 10 miles from me who was wondering if I could come down and get rid of the "bees" in her birdhouses. She has a paper wasp nest of some sort in one box but in the other birdhouse she says she has bumblebees. She says you can see "comb" inside but it is different than honeycomb. She says she knows the difference and they are definitely some sort of bumblebee, larger and furrier than honeybees. Anyone have any idea what they might be?
    Both birdhouses can just be unhooked and moved. Can I just pick up the bumblebee nest and bring it to my home? Will they reorient? How about the wasp nest, can it just be moved to a better location in her yard? (It is right by her back door.) Neither has been aggressive at all and she doesn't want to harm them, partly because "bees are getting rare, I seen it on TV".
    Sheri

  2. #2
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    May 2005
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    I've heard of bumblebees setting up in birdhouses before. They also like old bird nests to start their colony on. Yea, I would just close it up at night and carefully move it to a new location, just like honey bees. Maybe more than a few miles so they don't reorient to the old location. For paper wasps, I ignore them unless they are in a really inconvenient place. I've noticed they don't seem to reuse old nests so she could just clean it out this winter.

    If the bumblebee birdhouse has a top that opens, suit up and check it out. They build wax honey pots on the floor.

  3. #3
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    Thanks Michael, if she will part with her birdhouse I will bring it home. I could take the birdhouse back to her come winter, I guess. She says you can look right inside so not sure if the top comes up or if she is looking in the hole in front. I am hoping to get it and will take pics if I do. This sounds like fun.

    As for the paper wasps, there is going to be some remodeling of the area where they are at so they need to go. They too are in a birdhouse that can easily be moved, not sure what the repercussions of this would be. Do you think moving them will make them more aggressive around the place their home used to be? As it is they are quite docile with the comings and going near the door they are by, but once the banging starts, well, the construction guys don't want them there... Since this is the main problem and reason for the call she would probably want me to do something with them when I get the bumbles. Is there any way to save them?
    Sheri

  4. #4
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    Another possibility is carpenter bees. They look very similar to bumblebees, but their abdomen is slick instead of fuzzy. I know they love to get in wooden structures.

  5. #5
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    dragonfly
    I will be going to take a peek within the next couple days (once I figure what to do about the paper wasps) but she was sure they were bumbles of some sort, they were "fat and furry". Plus they had "funny looking comb" built inside the house, I think carpenter bees just drill individual holes, right?
    Sheri

  6. #6
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    May 2006
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    Erie, PA
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
    If the bumblebee birdhouse has a top that opens, suit up and check it out. They build wax honey pots on the floor.
    This I'd love to see! If you open it up, can you try to take a few pictures? I've never heard anything like it!
    “The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams.” -Henry David Thoreau

  7. #7
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    I'd like to see it too.... I've never seen a bumblebee nest.
    Dan Williamson
    B&C Honey Farm http://www.flickr.com/photos/9848229@N05/

  8. #8
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    Yep, you're right. I didn't think about that. Sorry. I've seen drawings of bumblebee nests, but never a photo. I'd love to see it.

  9. #9
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    I will post pics if she lets me have it.
    Sheri

  10. #10
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    Kirkland, WA, USA
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    The fresh wax is beautiful, a light orange color. Old wax is disgusting, like someone built a nest of boogers.
    http://www.voiceofthehive.com - Tales of Beekeeping and Honeybees

  11. #11
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    Well, this gal finally called me back. Good news and bad news....
    The bad news is she trashed the hornets nest. Last night she turned the pressure hose on it then sprayed the stragglers with wasp spray. This morning she went out there and her trellis that had the nest was down and the birdhouse was further torn up. Either those wasps got REALLY mad, or some raccoon or bear really liked the smell of the wasp spray. She said there are still a few flying around. She says they are smaller than honeybees, bigger than sweat bees and totally black. The nest sounds similar to a bald faced hornet. They started inside the birdhouse and then slowly enveloped the entire birdhouse....Any ideas what these are? I get a little bee similar to what she describes in my hummingbird feeders sometimes. They are small enough to get inside but can't find their way out again. They clean themselves off and fly away when I open the feeder up.

    The good news is I can bring the bumbles home so I am going over there tonight to get them. I had to talk her into this as she likes having them around...
    I will take pics.
    Sheri

  12. #12
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    Feb 2006
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    Orlando, FL
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    Well Sheri, how did it go? Did you get them?

    Do you have any pics to share?

    I'm on pins and needles here.
    Troy

  13. #13
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    Hi Troy
    It was way after dark when I got over there and the bees didn't even come out of the house when I moved it, even though I bumped and shook it quite a bit wrapping some netting around it then pulling it off the nail it was hanging on. You would have thought it was an empty box except you could hear them buzzing inside. I put it out on my garden trellis this morning, but didn't have the heart to tear into the nest yet, let them settle down a bit first. The nest seems to be full of the remains of a bird nest so it won't be easy to see the "honeypots" if I do take the top off.
    There hasn't been a lot of activity around the nest so far. A couple flying short distance when I first set it out but they went back in and now there is just one fanning on the front entrance. Hope they are OK.
    http://home-and-garden.webshots.com/...48587895RsyYjx
    Sheri

  14. #14
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    You should try to catch the queens that will hatch out of this nest, give them a suitable spot to hibernate and then set them up in their own boxes next spring. I don't know how many queens each hive will produce, but it should be quite a few.
    "I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage

  15. #15
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    Hi Jim,
    I was hoping to at least see the new queens, however many there eventually are. But don't they have to be mated before they hibernate? How would I tell if they are mated? I might try to contain and breed them in captivity if I thought I could use the drones from the same colony, but what about inbreeding?

    I kept an eye on them off and on today. There was one bee on the doorstep all day, like in the pictures. Sometimes she fanned and sometimes not. I wonder if they normally leave one guard on duty all the time? I saw one orienting on the new location. Several small circles around the entrance, then several larger circles, then a few yards away and back to near the front of the hive, repeated twice then she was gone like a shot. Cool.
    Sheri

  16. #16
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    I would assume that they would mate before leaving the main nest for the last time. It seems like they would have to mate during warmer weather....but maybe I assume too much. I just thought it would be neat if you could catch a few queens and hive them in the spring.
    "I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage

  17. #17
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    In 1995-96 Dr. Delaplane, from UGA, did a series in ABJ which includes rearing queens in captivity. The colony is placed in a room (min. 12X12) with a window, sugar syrup and pollen is placed in the window sill where bees tend to congregate, then leaf litter covered with slightly moist soil is placed on floor in front of window. After the queens mate, they burrow in the leaf litter and you collect them every other day. Place them in individual vials with half filled with slightly damp peat moss store at normal refrigeration temps about 41F for up to 8 months.

    Seems you have to determine when the time is right for your colony to begin mating queens. There will be young queens and more males with overall declining population. young queens are larger than workers or males and more brightly colored.

    Or at least thats what the man says! Never kept bumblers myself.


    Delaplane, K. S., 1996. Bumble beekeeping: handling mature colonies, mating queens. American Bee Journal 136, 105-106.
    Last edited by MichaelW; 08-02-2007 at 07:26 AM.

  18. #18
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    Oh, maybe they DO mate before leaving the nest. :confused: In the book I have it says to mate them with a different colony but maybe that is the best solution if you have a choice and you can use the brothers. I will have to reread it and maybe someone who knows about bumbles can help us here. I would like to try keeping the queens over winter.
    It would be neat to have them more domesticated, the birdhouse is cute but not very practical.
    Sheri

  19. #19
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    I'm pretty sure they don't mate with their brothers, so a second unrelated nest would be needed to use Delaplane's metheod. But if he says it will work that way, it proably will.

    I was thinking they would take mating flights, and return to the orginal nest between mating flights, and you could catch them before they left looking for a spot to winter.

    I did read about Delaplane's work, knew I had read it somewhere, just couldn't remember where.
    "I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage

  20. #20
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    Thanks Michael, initially missed your post. I will try to find that article. A 12 x 12 room? I think I have just the place for next fall.

    Looks like they need unrelated drones then. Unless I find another colony (not very likely) or it is obvious that I have a mated new queen I will probably let nature take its course and just try to catch the queens early next spring. That should be an easy thing to do, I see them every year in the yard here. At least with this colony I am enhancing our bumble population. I will also take the roof off to take a look see in a few days, once they know where home is.
    Fun.
    Sheri

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