A day of further learning and some mixed feelings today.
After Queen Bumblebum the Sixth stayed under our heather pot the other night we were keen to see what would happen the next day (yesterday): would she hang around and make for the nest box? Would she just zoom off somewhere else as soon as she could?
In the end she surprised us in an entirely different way. It was a horrible day again yesterday, very inclement and windy weather and we saw no sight nor sound of her all day long. We couldn't watch all day, but it was truly miserable and we concluded, perhaps to our surprise, that she must have stayed under the pot all day too! Who can blame her!
When I got home I thoroughly checked the box cam and confirmed she was not in the nestbox. I very carefully checked all the pots were upright and still shielded by bricks. If lil' bee had chosen to sleep under a pot again, so be it - it was our job to make her as comfortable as possible! After all, can't be too great sleeping on gravel under a pot when she is used to bedding down in grass.
Night came and went and at about 9.30 this morning I went out to check on the site. There was still no activity in the nest box on the camera and I had some fresh bee pollen to place at the nest site. This is an experiment we are trying to see if it encourages more bee activity and feeding. Results so far are completely inconclusive other than to say when it got wet the slugs loved it!
As I put the pot of pollen down I heard a short buzz. I couldn't tell where it was coming from, so I stepped back. Immediately before my eyes I saw little redtail BB6 on the heather! I was gobsmacked! She had spent another night under that pot after all! She was flying about, which meant she had already done her warm up - so I was not responsible for waking her up. She was planning to be up and about on this fine spring day! She looked very puffed up and big, which I couldn't believe after being crushed into the small space she slept it. It just goes to show how resourceful and tenacious these wonderful creaturesare - poor thing had gone two nights and a day without food and now she needed a decent breakfast!
I withdrew indoors to further observe and she meandered around some of the other flowers. She kept low and close to the box and I was ever so hopeful she was still keeping an eye on it and planning to go back it after topping up on food. Then she lifted up, much like a "jump jet", did a little squirt of what I presume was a pee(!) and then shot off west. I actually felt quite a pang in my heart, to think we had been custodians of BB6 for three whole nights, completely of her own choosing. But I'll admit my heart sank a little as I thought perhaps this was the last we would see of her.
I held out a few minutes in the hope I would see her circling to build up her mental map of the nest, but I didn't see her. So, I was still clinging onto the thought that she might have marked the flowers and will at least return to them tomorrow, if she likes them. But only tomorrow will tell.
I periodically checked throughout the day but did not see her, so I decided to look in the nest box. We had already agreed that probably we should remove some of the white fibre material that came with the box from the WWF. We were beginning to feel it was way too much after seeing other pictures on the internet of how others have filled it.
I checked the camera again to ensure nothing had gone into the box and carefully removed the lid. To my astonishment and delighed I discovered the little "sleeping bag" she had made from the brown gerbil nesting material we lined the floor with. It was tiny and ever so cute, so I took a picture! Seems like this little lass was trying to break my heart!
Having seen how she chose to work with the brown material and not the cotton-wool-like material and how she had avoided that end of the box, we discussed options and concluded that basically the white stuff should come out, so I removed about 95% of it. I replaced about 15% with some more of the brown. As a result the box is much less crowded and I think this is material she can work with better because it is much more stringy - whereas the white fibre is like cotton wool and hard to work into shape, even for a human; it's all a bit too clingy and forms into balls. I repeated the procedure with the second box out at the back. I also noticed the smell of the hamster litter had really died down too, which is good news.
I'm convinced we now have the best set-up yet for any future bumbles we catch and offer our home to.
My heart hopes BB6 will come back, but my head says she probably won't and we need to try and catch another. Our catching wizard was reporting mega activity today in the warmth up in Cheshire so we are still hopeful there are bumbles looking for nests - but time is, of course, running out; we're already starting to see the first brood of miniature hatchling bumbles out gather food (and they are way too cute!) In fact I saw one buzzing about on our heather.
It was still 20 degrees C at 7.30pm so I went out in the hope of finding a bee trying to bed down but saw none - I think the light was too low, even though the temperature and weather was very fair, and they were already tucked up for the night.
So, it looks like we start again looking for BB7!