I got a call from a friend today asking me to remove some "honeybees" from his yard. I asked enough questions to determine that I would need just minimal equipment to pick up a small swarm in an easily accessible spot. I had been staying with these people for the past few weeks while recovering from hip replacement surgery and had just returned to my own home last Wednesday. My friend, being fully aware of my current limited mobility, assured me that the bees would be easy to collect.
When I got to my friends house I was led around behind the house to where he had been cleaning up some construction debris that had been lying around since last year. While moving a small piece of lumber he had uncovered and dislodged what turned out to be a small bumblebee nest.
I picked up the nest, which is about the size of a tightly clenched fist, and sealed it up in a small cardboard box. It turned out that except for my gloves every bit of the equipment that I brought along was either unnecessary or inappropriate.
When I got the bumblebees back home it was getting dark so I put the entire nest in a western box with a bottom and a cover but no frames. The nest is tiny compared to the box that I put it in. The bumblebees are not located near any other bees.
Now, what should I do with them? Will a honeybee box be adequate for their needs in the long term? Can I relocate their nest to a more suitable setting, and what would that be? Can I fill the empty space in the western box to make it a little snugger fit for them? Can I feed them to give 'em a bit of an edge?
I'm not expecting much here but I would be thrilled if I could help them survive the rest of the season. I've always been fascinated by bumblebees.
I would put some fiberglass insulation on top of the nest since they usually build in scraps of it in my garage.
Here is a neat idea that might get you started.
I think, from casual observation, that I owe the bumblebees a big thank you this year for about 60% of the pollination services in my 30 fruit trees. Last year they were nowhere to be seen and I had no fruit.
Next year my yard will be quite untidy with bumblebee nest boxes hoping to encourage the queens to take up residence.
I've got a bumble bee box. It came with a book I purchased called "The Humble Bumble Bee". About the same dimensions as a shoe box. Internally divided into two equal chambers with a removable top. Entrance through a small hole on the front left side and there is a hole in the divider to access the second chamber where you place the nest. Alternatively, try a small bird house. Fiberglas insulation or cotton padding work well inside.
Re: More Bumblebees
Where did you get your bee house? I've been looking for one myself and have not been able to find anything outside of the UK.
Originally Posted by beeman7467
Re: More Bumblebees
I've been in awe of the bumblebees this year! I look everywhere for my new honeybees, but instead I'm seeing incredible numbers and varieties of bumblebees. They are such incredible foragers--out really early, in drizzling rain, late into the evening. I, too, thank the bumblebees for most of the pollination going on around my yard and garden!
ETA: My latest WI Natural Resources magazine had a great article on native bees, including how to build bumble bee boxes. You can find the article online at WNRmag.com, the June 2009 issue. Good luck!