buzzee weekend

Lovely weather for once this weekend, so we ended up getting quite a lot done. This post is really just a video and photo update.

I took the opportunity to check the nearby field to see what queens were out and about (if any) and see if i could find any wild nests. I didn't find any nests, but I saw plenty of queens and shot some great video of a vestal cuckoo (bombus vestalis) searching for nests to invade. (see later). 

First up though, quick survey of queens seen in a 1 hour traverse along my favourite transect:

  • Redtail Queens - 8 - mainly resting
  • Bufftail Queens 2 - resting
  • Vestal Cuckoo - 4 - nest searching
  • Carder - 2
  • Various others (half a dozen) in flight - unidentified

nearly all these were resting, a few flying past, and only the Cuckoos nest searching, looking for an unsuspecting established nest to take over:

One of the bufftails was more restless than most and she had no pollen - this would typically mean she hadn't set up nest (once she has, she will collect pollen to feed herself and her brood, and then ultimately not leave the nest at all). I decided to capture her and introduce her to our garden and pilkington box. Since we would not trap her in for more than a few minutes, it wouldn't matter if she had her own nest to go back to; and it could mean she would choose our box to nest in. As it happened, she took a while to enter the box and left not long later. Which is cool - if she liked the location she'll be back and if not, she's only 200 yards from where she was found and can easily get back. 

All Black

We also checked out the gardens in town and saw a few bumblebees there - another vestal cuckoo was foraging. But most interesting was spotting 3 seperate all black bumblebees forgaing and collecing pollen. I've not got a proper ID on these yet, but there are forms of all black Garden bumblebees, especially in the south/east of England (where we are). Here's a video:

New outlook

Since getting the beepol colony I've been wanting to get a camera set up in front of the lodge again. It hadn't happened yet because the camera I used last year was wall-mounted, but we've moved the lodge and now it needs to be sited in the garden on the grass. I built a stand using rolling pin and an old speaker-stand base. I used my standard maplin CCTV mini-camera mounted on top of this, and then to waterproof it, built a camera hood made from sugru
new CCTV camera looking at front of lodge..

Sugru is my new magic ingredient which can be moulded and stuck to almost anything and solidifies over the course of 24hrs into tough, waterproof silcone. So, here's hoping it does the job. 
And just for fun, a few other pictures:

rushing to get home... And a new box layout for our indoor bumblebees:
new box layout (with an attempt at some containment) for our indoor bees(We made some fake "wax" pots for our bumbles, to see what they do with them).