This post is a day late because I didn't get chance yesterday - and is a quick update on the Queen (QB2012-06) we introduced to the nest on Saturday night (March 24th). We introduced her to the box around 4.15pm (GMT as it was then) and after 2 hours is what clear she was going to stay the night.
We placed the capture tube against the entrance of the nestbox and she was quick to enter, mooching about while we loosened the moss in the end of the tube; we left it in place up against the box.
I also set up the cameras so they would record her leaving in the morning.
On Sunday morning I got up (clocks went forward, so I was groggy!) and it looked like the moss had been dislodged so I assumed she had gone. I checked several hours of footage, nothing, so I was a bit baffled, but assumed she must have broken out before sunrise (which bothered me).
Anyway, later we decided to see what she'd done to the bedding, so had a look through the red filter about midday, and she was still in there! Now I was worried because this meant she probably hadn't been able to break out as I thought; and now she was scratching at the air vents.
So, as a test I changed the capture tube for the narrow, longer piping (about 50cm), but she still showed no interest, I think not enough light coming down it. So, in the end I changed it again for our short 'funnel' made from the head of a bottle and she soon emerged.
She walked out, probably a bit hungry! And spent nearly 30 minutes foraging on our heather and wandering about, preening on our gravel and generally getting back into shape. We may have stressed her a little more than we intended, so we figured we'd go a lot easier on the moss (consequently today two queens escaped before even going into the box, but that's ok, I'd rather it was that way). Always a learning process!
I'm convinced this queen flew back again twice, she actually seemed to have an interest in the same piece of garage wall on all three occasions and followed same flight path. But who knows?
It was a beautiful day, so I went out again today and caught a redtail (QB2012-07) and a bufftail (QB2012-08). Redtail got away by breaking out from the moss end of the tube before entering the box - this is fine; better that than undue stress. We placed the bufftail at about 4:50pm (remember, the clocks went forward so sunset has moved to 7:30pm) and observed for well over an hour and she stayed in the box. We made sure she could easily escape - just attaching 50cm tubing unhindered to the outside world - although it's quite dark, perhaps not obvious as an exit at first.
I actually didn't see many nest searching today, they were all resting in the warm late afternoon sun. Quite a lot of bumbles actually: carders, bufftailed, redtail... But mainly I saw them all foraging and resting, barely any nest searching.
I checked the cameras this morning from about 6.20am non-stop to about midday and saw nothing of our Queen. Eventually BCW had a look in the box and she was not there. I think therefore that she didn't stay the night, but actually snuck out about 6.30pm when we decided to eat. In a way it's good, because it meant she discovered and used the long thin tube. She didn't come back today though, so we just have to keep a lookout for any of the queens returning a later date if they liked the box.
BCW also made some adjustments to the box - to flatten the bedding a bit to improve the camera view and to provide some sugar water in the box. We're really happy with the setup now.