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Author Topic: Will bumblebees be a problem?  (Read 1136 times)
BEH
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« on: February 20, 2008, 03:05:58 PM »

I have had a colony of bumble bees in my yard every year for the last oh 10 years or so.   I always nurtured them because I liked having them around as polinators.   I wont encourage them this year ofcourse.  I got rid of their nesting box and if I see them congregating I will try to head them of at the pass,  but I am sure they will still be around somewhere close by.    I spotted a big bumble queen buzzing around my pool this morning and shooed her off.   I've just been kind of thinking that when the Honey bees move in the bumbles will move out.  With the Honey hive being so much bigger than a bumble nest, that is.  Have I set myself up for a robbing problem?  The bumbles wont be a real threat will they?  Undecided
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kathyp
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« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2008, 03:27:51 PM »

not a problem.  yellowjackts are bad, but the bumble bees are not. i have tons.
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bassman1977
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« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2008, 03:58:37 PM »

We have a lot of them too and they don't seem to compete at all.  I have been living where I do now for the last 6 years.  We have always had a lot of paper wasps and I would have to go around every couple weeks knocking little nests off of the house.  Last year there seemed to be a lot less paper wasps but a lot more bumbles.  I like to think that my honey bees pushed the paper wasps out of the area but I'm not sure.  I heard this to be common.  I can't explain the increase in bumble bee activity.  Perhaps due to a decline in paper wasps also.  Who knows....
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Sean Kelly
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« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2008, 05:37:36 PM »

I had the opposite problem last year.  The bumbles were in full force before I got my bees.  Then they dissapeared.  But the paper wasps were in masses under everything!  I had one wasp nest that was very successful, almost 4 foot in diameter.  Went through 4 cans of bee-bop last season.  Man those are nasty buggers.

As for your bumble bees, don't shoo them away.  They are very helpful and dont threaten your bees in competetion.  They consume very little and dont make long term honey stores.  Their tongue is longer than a honeybee and can pollenate plants that honeybees wont.  Plus they are cute.

Sean Kelly
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« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2008, 07:28:58 PM »

I agree with Sean,  don't try to discourage them. Unlike honeybees who are selective and will only work one plant species at a time,  Bumbles will go from flower type to flower type without issue.  Most of the time you will find them working different flowers than the honey due to this and their longer tongues.   They present no threat to the honeybee, and after all, they are native so they should be encouraged.   

The only thing you might see is them trying to enter your hives in the late Fall, but don't worry, they are not trying to rob honey but rather trying to find a place to hibernate.  Most of the time the honeybees will kill them and you'll find them dead on the bottom board in Spring.
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bassman1977
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« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2008, 10:06:16 PM »

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Most of the time you will find them working different flowers than the honey due to this and their longer tongues.

I have definately seen this.  There are two flowery bush things that my wife has in the yard (lilac and asalia (sorry if I butchered the spellings of those)), that I thought for sure that my bees would go after.  They didn't but the bumbles did.  The flowery bush things were in bloom at the same time our clover flow was going on.  I guess one or both of those produce toxic nectar making nuclear glowing toxic honey?  huh huh
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BEH
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« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2008, 11:42:38 PM »

So glad to know I won't have to banish the bumbles!  I would have missed them!

Last year it was sooo cool! They started out in the nest box I provided then moved into a ground hive in the middle of my garden. I worked around them all spring and summer, it has been my experience that they dont usually bother you unless you directly mess with their nest. Their entrance was under a paving stone. I had noticed that there seemed to be a lot more than usual but I had no idea the true extent. About 5 feet away from their entrance I had piled a couple of bags of mulch in preparation for a new garden bed I wanted to put in. The bags sat there from fall to early summer, then my husband moved them so we could start the bed. HOLY MOLY! Those industrious little buggers had dug out and tunneled the entire 5 or 6 feet from the paver entrance all the way over and underneath the bags of mulch. Needless to say they were not happy to be disturbed. I kept hopeing they would calm down, given enough time, but each time I went into the garden after that they would get riled up. Sadly we ended up having to flooding them out.  They moved to another corner of the yard where there was less activity and started over.  When we were able to return to preparing the vegetable bed, we uncovered the full extend of their ground nest. Most of the ones I have seen have been maybe 4 sq feet tops, not real big.
This one was about 2 feet deep 3 feet wide and 5 or 6 feet long, about 30 to 40 sq feet.  shocked Amazing!
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reinbeau
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« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2008, 07:30:07 AM »

I have definately seen this.  There are two flowery bush things that my wife has in the yard (lilac and asalia (sorry if I butchered the spellings of those)), that I thought for sure that my bees would go after.  They didn't but the bumbles did.  The flowery bush things were in bloom at the same time our clover flow was going on.  I guess one or both of those produce toxic nectar making nuclear glowing toxic honey?  huh huh

Azaleas and other rhododendrons are the 'toxic nectar making nuclear glowing toxic honey' culprits, although it's really not as bad as it sounds.  First off, honeybees don't really care for the blooms (as you've seen, they're mostly visited by the bumbles) and if they do make any honey, it's gone by the time we harvest, as it's very early and they'll eat it up during the summer.  If you google the term Mad Honey Disease you'll get all sorts of hits, and read about the ancient war that was lost to the defenders who knew of the 'mad honey', the attackers didn't, you get the picture.  But really, for all intents and purposes, unless that's the only bloom ever in your area, and you're specifically growing Rhododendron ponticum, you shouldn't have a problem with it.

Trust me, I'm surrounded by eight acres of rhodies and azaleas, our honey is fine.
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Cindi
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« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2008, 10:03:09 AM »

Barbra.  Live with the bombus, they have a very special place in the pollination world.  People pay big bucks for a bumblebee colony, something like 100 bucks or something, for a colony that has around 50 bees, hee, hee, pretty big and small numbers.   As Sean said (and probably others too), they have a longer tongue than the honeybee and can pollinate things the honeybee can't. They forage on everything anytime, not like the honeybee that are pretty dedicated to a particular food source(s), at certain times.  The also forage when the weather is bad, I have seen them foraging in the rain up here, they are unbelievably tough and versatile.  They will not take over the pollen/nectar from the plants around your place, so love them, live with them, admire then, and mostly watch them, they are a thing of beauty within themselves.  Have a beautiful and wonderful day, love our life we live. Cindi

Get a load of the length of tongue of this Bumblebee, loving that rhododendron flower!!!

 
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« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2008, 11:34:41 AM »

If anything your honey bees will hurt the numbers of Bombus in your yard. Because honeybees are taking at least half the food from their flowers they visit the Bombus will have to work harder to get the food they need. This probably won't effect their colony size but will effect the number of queens each hive produces each year.
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