A Day of Ditch Diving

Another busy day today preparing for the arrival of our bumble beehive later in the week. I had to construct a shelter for it so that everything is ready when it arrives. I will detail how I've tackled that in a later blog.

On the bee-catching front, it was quite en eventful day - moreso than perhaps we expected. The temperature was about 20 degrees in the sun, though quite a chilly breeze. We didn't know if this would affect what bees we saw.

We went out between 16.30 and 18.30 (with several trips to return home) and in total saw about 8 identifiable bees, as follows:


  • 1 Carder Bee - may have entered a nest under some brambles
  • 1 Confirmed Bufftail/Vestal Cuckoo - observed in flight, video on youtube
  • 4 bufftails(BB30, BB32, BB33) - caught 3, unable to catch 4th
  • 1 Redtail (BB31) - caught but wouldn't enter box, possibly a cuckoo, let go
  • 1 Confirmed Redtail Cuckoo - caught, identified and let go


I was amazed to see this many bees out today; it's not as if there was a big hive of activity - in fact it seemed as though there were very few bees about. But, perserverance paid off and one by one I saw all these bees working their way up the ditch at the edge of the field as the sun began to directly shine on its embankments.

I was on fire today with my ditch-diving, catching 4 bees in total! 1 Redtail and 3 Bufftails!

We tried the redtail (BB31) in rear nestbox, but it wouldn't enter. And, to be honest, we weren't 100% sure if it was a cuckoo or not, so after 20 minutes we let it go. I wasn't too bothered by that. 

We also tried one of the bufftails (BB32) in the rear nestbox too. She took 20 minutes to enter - which is always a bad sign. We didn't see her on the camera, but we heard her in side; but then after 2 minutes she left. Again, pretty much to be expected. 

BB32 - Bufftail

The first bufftail (BB30) we caught we tried in the front nestbox. She was amazing and went straight in without any fuss at all. Frustratingly she was able to find a spot out of view of both cameras in that box! We heard a bit of scratching but not too much activity. It could be that the moss we have now put in the box is damping and reducing the sound. She spent just over an hour in the box and when she left she performed one of the most exciting behaviours we have seen to date. She crawled out and circled at a low level - this is usually thought to be getting a good view of the box and its location. She rose in height and circled a little more, then started to head off to the right. Instead of just zooming off into the distance, she came down to the lavender then flew back along its edge, back over the nest box. She hovered a little over the lavender around the nest box, then cross the road to the green just opposite, then finally headed off into the distance.

This is the first time we've had a bee "come back" after leaving the nest - i.e. show interest in the surroundings. So, it seemed pretty exciting. As usual, the big question is will she be back tomorrow? (Whilst we wonder why she didn't stay today).

Since the front box was now vacated we were able to introduce our third bufftail (BB33) to this box. She took longer to go in (15 mins) and again managed to find a spot hiding away from both cameras. (This is something I probably need to address). Again, we heard very little activity from her except the occasional buzz (maybe 3 or 4 over the space of several hours). We chose to leave the capture pot docked until dark which guaranteed her staying overnight; however, we've now removed that and replaced it with moss while she sleeps tonight.