I wasn't quite sure what to expect today, having come to the conclusion that three queens chose to share the nest last night, one of which we think is brooding.
One of the others has been in there a few days and we've not had concrete visibility of her, so it's possible she's actually died in the nest, as indeed our "August" (2nd Generation) queen did.
The third queen turned up yesterday and was quite happy to head into the nest and stay there overnight. I didn't know if she would venture out today or what her behaviour pattern would be.
I got my answer at 10am when she was the first queen to leave, because she tentively crept out of the nest and performed memorisation circling around the entrance to memorise the location of the nest. This means it was her first exit and that she planned on coming back. Sure enough, 21 minutes later she returned and from what I can tell, spent the rest of the day in the nest, probably trying to keep warm.
It was a cold day again today, peaking at 12.4 degrees, so I didn't expect to see much activity or foraging. How wrong I was - trip count was up again on yesterday at 46, levels not seen since September. The Queen (can't be sure which one) is contributing to these trips (8 Queen trips today) which is helping to lift the activity level.
In fact activity stats for the last few days are as follows:
- 11/10/2011 8
- 12/10/2011 10
- 13/10/2011 5
- 14/10/2011 21
- 15/10/2011 12
- 16/10/2011 17
- 17/10/2011 22
- 18/10/2011 21
- 19/10/2011 46
As we can see, quite an upturn in the last few days, despite the temperature drop. This, I suspect, is driven by the Queen brooding. Bombus Terrestris are natural pollen collectors - they just keep doing it when the nest is functioning. So despite the fact the workers have shifted loyalty from their (expired) mother queen to a new queen, they seem quite happy working hard for her.