Bumble bees dorment now or not?

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New Bee
Sep 18, 2009
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Hi, This is my first and probably last post to this forum.
I am not an apiarist but I do eat honey:) and never kill bees in the house like some I know.

Anyway, I have had a bumble bee nest in my coal shed all summer. It must be a big one. Because it had bees coming and going every few minutes all day.
So, my question is: Is it OK to open the coal shed and disturb the contents now or should I wait? I haven't seen any bees going to and fro for about 5 days now but the weather has been unsettled so maybe that's why they haven't been active.

So, what do you think?

Thanks in advance.

Hi Larry

First, thanks so much for coming on here and asking for advice before doing anything - we'll all be happy to help.

There are many different species of Bumble Bee. Some 'die out' earlier than others. Unlike Honey Bees, they dont survive the winter, just the Queen. If the nest under your shed has stopped flying, then there is a good chance that the time is right to remove the remains of the nest. Bumbles do fly at lower temperatures than Honey bees, but neither will fly in the rain if at all possible.

Cant post a link on here, but if you could identify which Bumble it is, would be more helpful.
Try googling the Bumble Bee trust - theres an indentification page on there somewhere,.

Hope this has helped.

Hi Larry,

Not sure where abouts you are or whether its urban or rural. For what it's worth there are still some bumble bees flying here in urban S Yorkshire, but the numbers are a lot less. As Widdershins says, it can depend on the type of bumble bee, as well as your location.

Well if S. Yorks is still flying then I don't know.
As for which species, sorry I haven't a clue.
I haven't looked at them that carefully.
They where quite big for bumble bees, easily more than an inch long and very puffy. I dont think I saw a white tail I did see one that was mostly all black.

I have just had a closer look at the entrance and there is a spider web over the hole so no bees have come out and it's quite a nice day although the temperature is down today.

Oh, and I live in Devon.

So what do you think?

While I remember. Last week I saw one that was bigger than the others. Easily 1 1/2 inches and very fat.

Could I have been lucky enough to have seen the Queen leaving the nest for the winter?

The big fluffy ones are the new Queens :). After mating with the relatively tiny drones ,they hibernate for the Winter, (all others including the old Queen die off)
Some workers are still working the flowers in my area but they , like the wasps are only prolonging the inevitable :cheers2:.

John Wilkinson
Larry, it looks likely the last batch of larvae may have hatched and left (mainly the virgin queens which will mate before hibernating).

Area of the country can be a red herring, as different species/sub species frequent different areas of the UK, so the bumbles still bumbling up the north are probably not able to live comfortably down your way as their fluffy overcoats would cause overheating in your neck of the woods.

Regards, RAB
So what your saying is it would probably be OK for me to go in now?

I think I will leave it for next week now anyway.

Just to be sure.

Thanks for your help

Hang on a minute! If the new queen flies off when all the other bees of her hive have died, and presumably all other hives of that species(locally) WHO does she mate with?
I reckon, She must have mated with the members of her own hive before leaving.

Anyway, thanks for your help again.


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