The day started with great anticipation, coming down early to see what BB19 was upto. At about 8.45am we heard a bit of scratching and very low dull buzzes. This continued in small bursts for about 30 minutes. Then we went silent for an hour. By this time BCW had to stop observing the camera.
By the time BCW came back, BB19 had gone! It's pretty much what we expected. We had unblocked the nest and just loosely filled the entrance with grass during the night, so that BB19 was free to burrow out when she wanted. Aside from being the kindest thing for her, we hoped that the grass in the entrance would "explain" why the box seemed blocked the night before. Of course, this might be way beyond the average comprehension or memory of a bee, but we don't really know :-) Also, she'd get the sense that the nest entrance was fairly secure, which might be encouraging to her. Anyway, she buzzed off and hasn't been seen today!
It was a very warm day today, so we were able to leave it later to go out bee-hunting. BCW had discovered a new spot with lots of Carder bees, although they were foraging for pollen high up in some tree blossom, so not suitable for catching. However, it is a new location to add to our catchment area. As we were heading there she spotted a bumble (BB20) .diving down into the nearby grass and, of course, being a bee-catching-wizard she managed to catch it in the pot. It was about 6.30pm 15 degrees or so, so a good time to be bedding down.
We didn't really recognise the bee so were a bit concerned it was a cuckoo bee - but we just couldn't be sure. One of the confusing elements is the 3 apparent stripes on the tail: Buff, White and Buff. She is quite long and thin rather than plump. And we couldn't be 100% sure she had pollen baskets on her back legs. In the interests of time we decided I would take the bee anyway and try and nest her while BCW carried on looking. I brought her to the front box; she was placid on the walk home but more agitated when I tried to nest her. In the end she took 30 minutes to go into the box, which must have been quite tiring.
Once she went into the nestbox she was very calm. She didn't do burrowing or cleaning behaviour but just did a few revolutions of the box. She didn't even appear to try and find an exit (unlike BB19 last night). After less than 5 minutes she just bedded down on top of the bedding at the far end of the box and went to sleep in full view!
We've looked at the identification sheet from the bumblebee conservation trust and can't find one that matches tonight's guest; so that's something we need to follow up.
using the guide from the natural history museum (see our Bee Links) we are confident this is in fact a Vestal Cuckoo bee - i.e. a Bufftail Mimic that would try to take over a genuine bufftail nest. Obviously there is no way she would stay in an unoccupied box. Nor do we want her hanging around to do so! We