This week I arrived home from work one evening to find a package I had been expecting had been left on the front doorstep, or more correctly in a safe place whilst I was out.
I carefully took the box around to the back of the house and removed the tape. This was a first for me and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Inside was a beepol lodge complete with our native British bumblebees. I couldn’t help but take a peek inside the lodge. I lifted the lid carefully and found inside the self contained nest and bumbling bees wandering around.
On following the detailed instructions, I carefully removed the lodge from the box and set it down its allocated spot in the garden and left it for almost an hour for the bees inside to settle back down. I was a little worried at this time as over the last few days the temperature had dropped and we currently had heavy rain. It had been raining continuously since the previous evening.
Thankfully, at about the time I needed to release the bees, the rain had stopped. I opened the lid and broke open the catch on the box inside that contained the nest, before I had chance to close the lid the bees were already starting to move through the hole and up into the roof of the beepol hive.
About an hour later the first bee was to be seen at the hive door and after a few attempts managed to work out how to get out of the hive. It sat on the ledge, cleaned its wings and took flight. Its first flight was initially clumsy and a little drunk looking, but it managed a lap of the garden before settling on the cherry blossom. It wasn’t long before the first bee was followed by one or two others.
On later inspection of the hive it was noted that in the entrance hole were two bees that appeared to be sitting in the way. I had heard that a bee’s nest was guarded by bees to prevent unwelcome guests entering the hive, but didn’t believe it until I saw it with my own eyes. There they were sat in the hole side by side, like bouncers, with the worker bees having to clamber over them to get in and out.
It wasn’t until the next evening that I actually got to see the bees re-entering the hive. Due to the plastic cat flap idea it takes them a little while to figure it out. I watched as some of the bees took a few minutes wandering around the entrance area before they realised how to obtain access. Hopefully it won’t be long before this becomes second nature to them.
On inspection of the hive last night I spotted one of the bees on the floor next to the hive. It looked dead. I carefully picked up the bee, it was much smaller than the others, and as I gently blew away some of the soil and debris around it, there was some faint movement of its antenna. I quickly went to get some sugary water and placed the bee next to this. It managed a sip and within minutes the bee was back on its feet walking around. I took it back up to the hive and placed it back inside with the others. I am not really sure whether this was the right thing to do or not, but being so small and with the light dropping it wouldn’t have lasted the night outside. Hopefully the little bee will be ok and it will be going about its business as usual today. We will never know.