Amourobius ferox

Amourobius ferox
By Peter Byles

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Tree Bumblebee nest

We have had Tree Bumblebees in our garden for several years now - we often see them on the raspberry flowers - see pic. 

This year they have nested in our compost heap - the entrance is between two wooden slats at the front of the centre bin. Peter unsuspectingly heaped a new load of stuff on to the top only to be confronted with about 6 angry bees whizzing out of the hole and he actually got stung. When we realised what was going on we also noticed a single bee patrolling up and down outside the nest - we thought it was a "guard" bee but we now know it was a "male on surveillance" because we read an excellent paper on the Bumblebee Conservation Trust website about Tree Bumblebees and their nests.  http://bumblebeeconservation.org/images/uploads/Tree_bee_article_2015.pdf
So we know not to create sudden vibrations - Peter has found he can put compost on the adjacent heap very carefully without being attacked! Since we noticed the nest the weather has been awful so I'm not sure how they're getting on.

But you can see how they have spread so successfully - they nest in protected places where badgers can't dig them up and they are quite aggressive.

3 comments:

  1. Rosemary’s link is a super description of this creature. I first encountered them in a used nest box in the garden of one of my daughters, who lives in Surrey. This was before they had spread all over the country. They were very aggressive. If anyone went near the ‘hive’ the guards would come buzzing around. In the evening about half a dozen bees kept trying to get into the box, but couldn’t get past the guard bees just visible at the entrance.

    At the time I looked up all the info I could find and someone had written that they had a ruthless system. Returning bees were only allowed back in the hive if they had a proper load of nectar or pollen aboard! I’m glad that human society allows non-productive OAPs to survive!

    Peter Byles

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  2. I have had them for two years in a bird box on my garage but they haven't returned this year. I was attacked when I was cleaning my mower nearby but only realised too late that is WAS an attack as only a couple of bees joined in. Got stung on the face but, pleased to say, not too painful and no bees died in the process.

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  3. Regarding Peter's comment about bees returning with no food - perhaps these could have been males trying to get into the hive to find a queen because of course the males would have no pollen sacs and they would be undoubtedly be driven out by the guards.
    It would not make much sense really to keep females out of the nest potentially to die overnight as they are a valuable resource.

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