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Thread: My bumble bees

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Saint John, Indiana
    Posts
    101

    Default My bumble bees

    Hello! I'm fairly new here and i currently don't have any honey bees. Though i do keep bumble bees. I build nest boxes for them, make nest sites, and captive rear colonies. I keep my bumble bee colonies in nest boxes with special door flaps. These door flaps keep out parasites such as wax moths. I've had tons of success this year! I would love to share my bumble bee knowledge and answer any questions you may have about them. Here are some of my colonies from this year.

    My Bombus bimaculatus colony. This colony was very successful and produced 50 new queens! The average is just around a dozen! Well here is some footage of that nest.

    The foundress queen returning to the nest from one of her last foraging trips before the workers took over foraging:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/robomant.../4/9oHAS7gWXjc

    Here is a new virgin queen leaving the nest for the first time (note how she does an orienting flight):
    http://www.youtube.com/user/robomant.../1/80qZ7v8Laa0

    Here is a new queen returning to the nest for the first time. She has a little trouble with the door, but she does make it in:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/robomant.../0/W4wR7qRDeCA

    Another nest in a viewable nestbox. This video has a worker putting pollen in a storage pot:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/robomant.../3/KpWBCf21S3c

    Here is a different nest. This species is Bombus impatiens. I have them in a viewable nestbox. This video was taken early June. This nest has 150 workers currently and has gone into producing males and new queens. I will make more updates of them soon:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/robomant.../2/8cqyOnxQMHk

    I hope you enjoy and please comment!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    Posts
    53

    Default Re: My bumble bees

    Very nice! How did you get started keeping bumble bees, did you just create the nestbox and a bee found it or?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Harsens Island , Mi , USA
    Posts
    241

    Default Re: My bumble bees

    Awsome ...The door hatch is wonderfull ..

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Saint John, Indiana
    Posts
    101

    Default Re: My bumble bees

    I got started keeping them because I love social insects and I thought bumbles would be a good next step. I plan on keeping honey bees soon. So the bumbles really helped me prepare and such. As far as getting the nests... Its really kind of complicated. To sum it up though I basically provided a nestbox with nest materials and put a queen in there and got her to stay. There is a lot more to it, but I don't want to type like a whole page on it haha! If you want to know more you can message me or something.

    Yeah the door hatch works great i have this hive and its free of parasites!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    moffat CTY. COLORADO,USA
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: My bumble bees

    nice work plan to see all of your links. I can keep my eyes open on our property. thx.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Garland County, AR
    Posts
    1,076

    Default Re: My bumble bees

    Wow! Too kewl!
    Zone 7b ~ Central Arkansas
    8fr medium equipment

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Bow, NH, USA
    Posts
    64

    Default Re: My bumble bees

    Very nice! Thanks for posting.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Pueblo, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    676

    Default Re: My bumble bees

    Nice design. Next year I plan on trying to capture some bumbles but I don't have a clue as to how big the nest box should be or even the design of it. I've seen 2 chamber bumble boxes, 1 chamber boxes, 2 chamber with feeder etc. Any design tips would be appreciated.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Saint John, Indiana
    Posts
    101

    Default Re: My bumble bees

    Thanks everyone! I'm glad you like the boxes and bees!


    Quote Originally Posted by rwurster View Post
    Nice design. Next year I plan on trying to capture some bumbles but I don't have a clue as to how big the nest box should be or even the design of it. I've seen 2 chamber bumble boxes, 1 chamber boxes, 2 chamber with feeder etc. Any design tips would be appreciated.
    Thanks Rwurster! You don't really capture some bumble bees. In the spring they are all queens. All you have to do is try to get one to move into your nestbox. There are many ways of doing so. Message me if you are interested in learning these methods more (They are kinda complex). The size of the nestbox depends on the species. Some species get around 30 and some can get up to 400! I usually use 1 main box, then I put the porch on. The porch has a little room thats about 4 inches in all dimensions. So for most of my boxes I have 1ft by 1ft by 1ft. Then i put a porch on the side. The porch is where that door flap is attached to. People use the porch as a multi-purpose room. You can put some sugarwater in a dish to feed them if you want. They will go in there and fan on hot days and later in the season it becomes the garbage room. Near the end of the colony lifecycle all the queens congregated in there before going dormant. My big viewing nestbox has 2 main chambers then the porch. They throw their dead bees in the second smaller chamber. To sum it up there are lots of designs haha!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    SLC, UT
    Posts
    219

    Default Re: My bumble bees

    I'd love some more information about box placement, attracting a queen in the spring, etc. I set out a box this year to no avail, but have tons of bumblebees in my yard (many hundreds) so I'd assume there are queens around.

    My house is the humble bumble from Knox cellars:

    http://www.knoxcellars.com/Merchant5...tegory_Code=SS

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Saint John, Indiana
    Posts
    101

    Default Re: My bumble bees

    Quote Originally Posted by kincade View Post
    I'd love some more information about box placement, attracting a queen in the spring, etc. I set out a box this year to no avail, but have tons of bumblebees in my yard (many hundreds) so I'd assume there are queens around.

    My house is the humble bumble from Knox cellars:

    http://www.knoxcellars.com/Merchant5...tegory_Code=SS
    I'll send you a message.

    Also I think I'm going to write an instructional guide for you guys soon! If you guys have any more things you would like me to discuss in my guide let me know!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Pueblo, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    676

    Default Re: My bumble bees

    If you could carbon copy it to me also it would be much appreciated. I think I saw a queen bumble the other day when i was burning weeds, it might have been a drone but there was no way to tell. It was definitely a bumble bee but I don't know why there would be a queen or a drone out at this time of year as it was 102 today. Seems like the weather would need to be cooling off a bit before queens went out to mate and find a winter home. Then again I don't really know much about bumbles, but I'm interested

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Saint John, Indiana
    Posts
    101

    Default Re: My bumble bees

    Almost all bumble bee species end their cycle early. July-August. Then we have the species that end their cycle in late fall. It varies greatly. Maybe the bumble bee you saw was hiding in the weeds you were burning trying to stay cool? Male bumble bees have a patch of yellow of their face. It looks just like a mustache. They are a lot more hairy and have bigger eyes. Males set up mating territory so he might have been patrolling.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    moffat CTY. COLORADO,USA
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: My bumble bees

    hay robo what are more clues to look for on the ground?
    featbee

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    White Rock, BC, Canada
    Posts
    30

    Default Re: My bumble bees

    Great thread, love the bumble bee house door flap. I'm guessing that's something you have to add after the colony establishes itself in there? Or can you have it on right from the start? I suppose if you're able to trap a queen and put her in you could have it there from the start. I look forward to reading through the guide you're making, maybe bumblebee keeping will be in my future too.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Saint John, Indiana
    Posts
    101

    Default Re: My bumble bees

    I add the door flap after the first workers emerge. You want to be very careful with confusing the queen in the beginning. Don't want her to get confused and abandon the nest. I had the flaps on since early on, but they are propped up and didn't interfere with the queens too much. I've got lots of tricks up my sleeve this year! Worked on new designs and improvements for this spring. I'm adapting them to suit the specific species i want that are very picky.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    SLC, UT
    Posts
    219

    Default Re: My bumble bees

    Quote Originally Posted by robo mantis View Post
    I add the door flap after the first workers emerge. You want to be very careful with confusing the queen in the beginning. Don't want her to get confused and abandon the nest. I had the flaps on since early on, but they are propped up and didn't interfere with the queens too much. I've got lots of tricks up my sleeve this year! Worked on new designs and improvements for this spring. I'm adapting them to suit the specific species i want that are very picky.
    Any advice you could give on hive placement or tips to attract a queen would be appreciated!

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Saint John, Indiana
    Posts
    101

    Default Re: My bumble bees

    Their nest site specifications are a lot different then honey bees. The bumbles need to be kept in shade. Their air conditioning is nowhere near as efficient as honey bees. If you keep the bumbles in the sun they will roast alive. So full shade during the summer is a must. Also once there is an established nest, don't attempt to move it unless you do it at night and move them a few miles away. Like honey bees, if they are close enough to the old nest site they will return there. Nest or not. To attract queens, place the nest box in an area where you see lots of searching queens in spring. Make sure the entrance hole is dark so it sticks out to them visually. Also put the nest box out of the way of human traffic. Too many people walking around might stress them and people might mess with them.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    SLC, UT
    Posts
    219

    Default Re: My bumble bees

    Quote Originally Posted by robo mantis View Post
    Their nest site specifications are a lot different then honey bees. The bumbles need to be kept in shade. Their air conditioning is nowhere near as efficient as honey bees. If you keep the bumbles in the sun they will roast alive. So full shade during the summer is a must. Also once there is an established nest, don't attempt to move it unless you do it at night and move them a few miles away. Like honey bees, if they are close enough to the old nest site they will return there. Nest or not. To attract queens, place the nest box in an area where you see lots of searching queens in spring. Make sure the entrance hole is dark so it sticks out to them visually. Also put the nest box out of the way of human traffic. Too many people walking around might stress them and people might mess with them.
    Great information!!! Thanks. Would it be better to hide one in the middle of a bush, or should it stand out more visually? How about which direction it faces? I.e. would it be better to put it on the north side of my home where it will never see direct sun? Out of range of a sprinkler head that runs in the middle of the night?

    FWIW this is the one I have painted an olive green:

    http://www.knoxcellars.com/Merchant5...tegory_Code=SS

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Saint John, Indiana
    Posts
    101

    Default Re: My bumble bees

    You could put it next to a bush that's in a shady area. Then just slide it under the bush when a nest occupies it. Just don't really cover the entrance too much. Direction it faces isn't a big deal at all. Bumble bees get to work early in the morning and don't need sunlight to really warm them up. North side of the house sounds good, as long as there isn't much people traffic or disturbances. For sure never let the sprinklers spray the box. Too much moisture can cause the nest to get moldy. Keep them dry, away from humans and in the shade.
    I've seem those nest boxes before. Should work fine. Another rule is, don't disturb the queen at all during the founding stage. You can stand nearby and watch, but don't mess with the box or open the lid to spy on her. That will cause her to abandon the nest. Last year I tried spying on a queens nest in the founding stage during one of her foraging trips. She then abandoned the nest. So leave her alone until a few days after workers emerge and you are sure she won't leave.

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