Having failed with 4 bees so far, we've decided to try some different tactics. These are some of the things we considered to be issues and have attempted to rectify:
- Ants around the nest - obviously ants are going to steal nectar, so poor bumblebum will have the food she creates for her larvae stolen by ants. She will not want to nest near ants. So, we have put out several traps and are trying to eliminate ants from the area.
- Being trapped in the nestbox overnight. Our judgement is that bumblebum will be too stressed in a box she can't escape from and not consider it suitable for a permanent home. We will no longer be blocking up the box, even for just the first night.
- Entering the box. It seems logical that placing bumblebum directly in the box will be confusing as she will not have assessed the entrance and the box position and general aspect. It seems at least allowing her to enter the box from the outside through the proper entrance stands a better chance of her understanding what is going on.
So we decided for the next bee we would do a couple of things:
- catch a Carder bee, because they are much less fussy about nesting above the surface of the ground
- allow the bee to transfer herself from the bag to the nest box via the main entrance
- make sure the box contains user hamster bedding/litter
Our resident bee-catching wizard came up trumps and caught the requisite bee and brought her back in our pot/bag combo. Then we held the bag to the front of the box. She was very feisty and upset and we were getting concerned about her well-being and considering just letting her go. She passed the entrance several time but to our frustration never went in.
Eventually she grabbed onto the box itself and just stayed still and quiet - we think she was playing dead. So at that point we withdrew the bag and retreated and jsut watched. She stayed there for a long time, perhaps 30 minutes, just totally still. We thought maybe she was warming up to take off.
Eventually, she started to walk up the box and we hoped she would discover the entrance. However, she made her way up the front of the box to just under the ceiling lip and stayed there. Seems like she had found somewhere to bed down for the night - we were surprised she would choose somewhere directly in the open, but she stayed there all night.
In the morning she was gone and there was no evidence of her inside the box :-(
Obviously we were disappointed but on the plus side, the fact she was prepared to rest on the box during the night suggests our site is sufficently sheltered, which is encouraging.