Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Bumble Bees in our garden

On Friday we took delivery of a very exciting parcel. It had been left with our kind neighbours the night before, and they were bemused and slightly scared by the warning labels plastered all over the outside of the box...

WARNING
LIVE BUMBLE BEES INSIDE BOX
HANDLE WITH CARE

I, on the other hand, was completely over-the-moon that this box had arrived safely, and I knew MrPB would be just as excited when he saw it. So what had we been buying?

Opening Dragonfli Beepol Villa
MrPB opens the box of bees
Opening Dragonfli Beepol Villa
The Villa is revealed

It's a Beepol hive and Lodge!! Beepol Garden Hive
...and inside...

Inside Dragonfli Beepol nest Bumble bees
The Beepol is a nest of happy healthy bumble bees ready to get to work in the garden
...our very own colony of Buff Tailed Bumble Bees (Bombus terrestris audax).
We read the instruction, and chose our site carefully and after placing the hive, we left it alone until dusk. We then followed the next set of instructions to prepare the hive for releasing the bees, and then waited until early the following morning before actually letting them go.

Saturday morning we went into the garden, full of anticipation. I stood a good distance away from the hive, and MrPB quietly went over and picked up the string that was attached to a foam bung in the top of the hive. He pulled the string, the bung came out with one bee attacking it, and then.........nothing.

We waited...
...and waited...
...and eventually we were rewarded with scenes like this...

Bumble bees emerging Dragonfli Beepol Villa
The Bumble bees begin to emerge from the Villa
(One Bumble on the roof and one hovering outide the right hand entrance.)

Bumble bee reversing Dragonfli Beepol Villa first foraging mission
Bumble bee reversing out of the Villa on its first foraging mission
Awesome! We sat watching them for ages. The most fascinating thing is the way they leave the hive.
Firstly, they come to the entrance (just like the photo above), then they turn around and reverse out of the hole. They take off, and inspect the entrance and the landing ledge. Then they inspect the hive itself and the things next to it. Then they start to fly in ever increasing circles, taking in landmarks and getting higher and higher, until....vroooom! they shoot off into the distance to go foraging! It's like they are memorising their way home.

We left them alone, and then at about 11.30 we went and had another sneaky peek, and were treated to scenes of our little Bumbles coming home, with fully laiden pollen sacs, after just four hour of foraging. Nature is amazing!!


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