in a pile of "hog fuel" (like bark dust kind of) today as i was shoveling it into a wheelbarrow for distribution I saw a magnificent bumblebee. pretty big and pristine looking. demarcation lines between black and yellow well defined. it sat on the top of the pile for a minute, cleaned it's head with its front feet, turned around and went into a hole. no other bees around although my wife did see one in the same pile a couple days ago. maybe the same bee.
last year we had a colony. lived under a dog house. bees happily came and went and we left them alone. dogs weren't using the dog houses and didn't notice the bees. we waited until mid winter to move the houses which we had to do for other reasons. we had read that by that time the queen has gone off and found a new place to start next years brood.
this year we've seen very, very few bumblebees. so to see this one makes me wonder if it's not a queen. if it is a queen, is there any way we can move her to another location and hopefully have bumblers next year. if it's not a queen i guess it doesn't matter. we'll just be sure not to hurt it.
all i can think of is maybe to take a big plastic bucket like you get at lowes. fill it with the hog fuel and then gingerly scoop around the area where the bee is and plant that bit of hog fuel in the bucket full. Maybe we should just leave the remaining pile of hog fuel there until winter. and then move her.
I'd really like to encourage a new colony and am very grateful i found this site. Any help you can offer will be welcome.