Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Where Do Bumblebees Nest?

I had never wondered about this, and learned it quite accidentally. I know bumblebees are useful and desired for pollinating flowers and crops and that we don't have enough honeybees. I had even thought bumblebees were clumsy and slow and that they didn't sting. Wrong. Not only can they sting but don't die from the sting. They are not as aggressive as honeybees, but will sting if protecting their nest.
     While checking a bluebird nest box, I discovered a strange collection of dead leaves and fluffy fibers which I knew weren't the leftovers of a neat bluebird and was about to pull it out and clean the nest to get it ready for a new family. When I touched the top material a couple of bumblebees crawled out and flew past me, one touching my lip and another my arm. More seemed to be appearing and I thought I'd better move away. Then I realized the two places they "touched" were stinging like crazy.
    The next day I decided to try to close the door of the box to protect the bumblebees, and when I touched the door and began to close it, a buzzing sound seemed to announce, "She's back!" Two more bees popped me before I could get away. So, I guess they didn't appreciate my help or interference.
     My trusty fire ant bite remedy relieved the intense stinging in a very few minutes.My mom was given this recipe years ago by an exterminator:

     25 aspirin, crushed
     Add to 1 pint bottle of rubbing alcohol
     Add 1-1/2 oz. spirits of camphor
It works like a miracle and I'm never without it.


Holly Knott said...

Oh no, Martha! Yes, I have wondered where they nest, too. So glad you are okay and I've learned something - did not know about that remedy. I often wonder where our honeybees go. We see them in really early spring when only the crocuses are out. They find them quickly... and then we hardly see anymore honeybees the rest of the spring or summer.

Linda Ginn said...

I'm still laughing about your 2nd trip out there -- to help them. :)

djdunn1 said...

We found a nest in our "bird house" too. Besides the recipe for stings, what can you do about the nest?

Martha said...

Mainly I plan to leave the nest alone, since the Bbs are only aggressive when disturbed (according to Wikipedia). I think the Bbs are useful for pollinating flowers. We have another bluebird nest box on another tree (I cleaned out last year's nest). Hope the bluebirds I see in the yard will build there.