Bees!

Please help! We’re having a fence installed, and the workers were pounding a post near the garage when a steady stream of bumble bees started coming out of the ground. It’s fantastic! I’m thrilled to know that we are hosting these amazing little creatures. However, the fence workers want us to fumigate the hive before they continue working. We will not do this. So … any ideas? We won’t have the blood of a hundred bees on our hands.

7 Comments

StrangeDamage

about 8 years ago

If you wait until this fall after a few hard freezes there won't be any problems.  The whole hive does not survive the cold, only the queen with the help of a few of her boys to keep her warm. Exact life cycle depends on the kind of bee.

bluenewt

about 8 years ago

So glad you want to help these bees. Bumblebees are important pollinators of native plants -- and of tomatoes! -- and they are in decline, faced with many of the same threats as honeybees.

StrangeDamage is right that the problem will go away by itself if you can wait. Bumblebees won't re-use a nest. An attempt to relocate an underground nest is not likely to be successful.

It should be possible to work around the nest. Bumblebees rarely sting.

bluenewt

about 8 years ago

In case you are interested, the Xerces Society would like info on your bumble bee nest. They say:

If you have a bumble bee nest on your property we would love to hear about it! Please email us at bumblebees @ xerces.org and we will send you a link to our bumble bee nest survey, so that you can help Xerces to collect important information on bumble bee nesting biology.

Karasu

about 8 years ago

Are they nice bees, or wasps? I would not hesitate to murder any number of wasps.

bluenewt

about 8 years ago

I wrote to the U of M's Bee Squad about your question and got this reply:

We just had this question yesterday. Here was our bumble bee expert, Elaine Evans, response: Bumble bee hives are sometimes in clumps of debris above ground and sometimes below ground. I usually try to avoid digging out hives that are underground for several reasons. Firstly, they can sometimes be several feet underground and it can be hard to find the main nest in the ground even if you know where the entrance is. Secondly, it's too easy cause damage to the nest. Thirdly, by the time that people notice them (around this time of year), they are often nearing the end of their colony cycle. There are several species that are already at the last stage of their colony development right now. Those colonies won't last more than another two weeks. Letting these precious pollinators do their thing is worth the wait. Unfortunately, I am afraid I would be likely to damage the nest in trying to dig it out. The bumble bees are capable of flying up and over things. I suggest you set up some kind of barrier so that the kids don't accidentally step on the nest. Even chicken wire could work. I've had several nests in my back yard with kids running around and they really are docile unless you mess directly with them.

jnwari

about 8 years ago

Thanks for all the great suggestions. After a while, I think the guys realized the bees weren't going to sting. They worked cautiously around the area and finished without any problems. Hooray!

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