It wasn't a bee day today, so it was a case of taking stock, doing a bit more "bee thinking" (seeing the world from a bee's eyes to improve the landscaping) and adding some grasses to the garden.
Based on several Bumbles recently bumbling around looking for a nest site on our back lawn, we figured that the longer grass must have been an attraction for them. So, as well as adding some dried grass around our nestbox entrances, with the aim of making them (theoretically) look a bit more like a grassy hummock, we also decided to add some potted grasses to create taller stems that bees would want to dive down into and look under.
Our other idea was to create a "runway" from the lawn to the rear nest box, in the hope that if bees also searched along it, they would naturally find the nestbox. It may sound like a crazy idea, but only yesterday on the news (13th April 2011) a project in Yorkshire was announced to create "bee roads" across the county, to help provide a habitat for them to feed and thrive.
We will probably still cover the rear nestbox with more grass and make it much more camouflaged, once we are happy this is the best location.
I was fooling about creating a "bee's-eye" video on my iPhone, flying from plant to plant and we were observing all the wonderful handiwork BCW (bee catching wizard) had been doing through the day when I spotted a bufftail (BB14) landing on the grass and looking for a place to bed down! I couldn't quite believe it, as it was by now 6.30pm and had been cold all day. BCW had been out late afternoon and not seen any bees, although had seen a deer and nearly jumped out of her skin! The outdoor temperature was about 10.4 degrees, so this little Queen was very late to be out finding somewhere to bed down.
BCW rushed for our pot and caught her; so, of course, we were able to take her straight to the front nestbox and encourage her to enter. That took about 10 minutes, during which time it was feeling very chilly. BB14 she was very calm and placid, and cleaning herself inside the pot and not really trying to escape. This is unlike the redtails, which seem a lot more feisty and sometimes try biting their way out with their mandibles. Eventually she realised she could enter the nestbox and off she went.
Because of the failing light we couldn't really make anything out on the camera, so we were relying on the audio to hear what she was up to. We heard about 10 minutes of scratching around, hopefully making a bed! After that it went silent - and by about 8pm she still hadn't come out of the box, so we assume she has stayed the night! Looking forward to seeing what happens in the morning and also to getting the new infrared light I've ordered from eBay!