Bumbling along...
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Bumbling along...

 
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ghiribizzo
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Joined: 22 Nov 2005
Posts: 510
Location: Ferryport-on-Craig. The Kingdom of Fife.

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2006 6:58 pm    Post subject: Bumbling along... Reply with quote

The geocacher's paradise that is the front garden (no you can't put a multi in AB...) is full of rather big bumble bees just now that seem to be looking for nooks and crannies rather than going to flowers that their near relations seem to be interested in.
If they are looking for a place to put a hive, does anyone know if they all troop off en masse with the Queen to look for a site or do certain bees hunt down a place and then inform them in some insect behaviour that there's a good place nearby?
Depending on the answer is the next question to be how do you get honey out of Bumble bee hives? Confused
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Wildlifewriter
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Joined: 04 Aug 2005
Posts: 948
Location: Norn Iron

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2006 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The bees you see at the moment are all queens. They mated last autumn and have hibernated over the winter.

And yes - they ARE looking for nooks and crannies, to set up a new colony for this season. (You can help bumblebees by providing such nooks, or even crannies if you can afford them, for bees to nest in.)

When the queen finds a good spot - warmish, dry, near a food source AND water, she will lay the first eggs of the season. These will be workers, which start to forage for food, and gradually build up the colony numbers. The colony size never approaches the huge birthrate and frenetic activity of an apis mellifera honybee hive.

Maximum numbers vary according to species, of which there are over 200 in the Palearctic region. Towards the end of the summer, special eggs are laid which develop into new juvenile queens, and drones. (Males.)

Drones hatch from unfertilized eggs - a drone bee has a grandfather, but no father.

It is not worth trying to get honey from a bumble nest. Because the colony does not overwinter, there are no excess reserves as we see with honeybees. Most of the cells in an established colony will be filled with brood, rather than honey. The young are fed directly by incoming workers.

At the end of the season, the young queens mate, and then look for a good hibernation spot. The rest of the colony dies - usually after the first cold snap.


Hth,

-Wlw

(For an answer running to several pages, ask me about honeybees... Smile )
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ghiribizzo
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Joined: 22 Nov 2005
Posts: 510
Location: Ferryport-on-Craig. The Kingdom of Fife.

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2006 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very Happy Good stuff. Just seem to be an inordinate number about here just now. Meanwhile, the other bees are working away in an Arthur Askey-esque fashion.
Must buzz, off to get a copy of Amateur Apiarist...
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allieballie
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Joined: 29 Aug 2005
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Location: Fife

PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2006 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good, simple identification key here:

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/projects/bombus/key_british_colour_info.html
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ghiribizzo
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Joined: 22 Nov 2005
Posts: 510
Location: Ferryport-on-Craig. The Kingdom of Fife.

PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2006 11:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Really 'simple'. Shocked
If I get stung it's all your fault...
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