Bumblebees

schmiggle

Arachnoprince
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I've started working with some researchers working on bumblebees, among other things, and one of the things we do is go out looking for nests. Now, bumblebee nests are very hard to find--one hole in the ground is very much like another. Thus, it appears the most reliable method ("reliable"--a low bar, indeed) is to track a bee from its foraging back to its nest. I went out today and found a couple bees that returned to their nest, but they fly back very quickly in a straight line. If I had been thinking I would have run after them, but that's iffy, because the grass in these fields is very tall and hard to run through. Thus, is there a way to even approximately track a bumblebee once it's made a beeline for its nest? (That's the actual term, by the way--beeline)

An additional question: what are their favorite plants? I've heard they like queen anne's lace, but I didn't find any despite searching through many tracts of it. I did, however, find two in what I think was bittersweet. What sorts of flowers should I look for? Will they eat grass pollen?

The work is in Massachusetts.
 

awiec

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I did some observational work of native Michigan bees and I found that bumblebees really seem to like visiting the invasive plant the multi-flower rose aka Rosa multiflora for both pollen and like to chew up the leaves for I presume was for nest building.
 

schmiggle

Arachnoprince
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I did some observational work of native Michigan bees and I found that bumblebees really seem to like visiting the invasive plant the multi-flower rose aka Rosa multiflora for both pollen and like to chew up the leaves for I presume was for nest building.
I haven't seen any of these, but I will look for them.
 

Salmonsaladsandwich

Arachnobaron
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You can try catching a bee and tying a long thread or a feather or something to it to slow it down and make it more visible.
 

schmiggle

Arachnoprince
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You can try catching a bee and tying a long thread or a feather or something to it to slow it down and make it more visible.
Thought about this, but I'm worried about doing that because it might interfere in a way I don't want it to. But we may try it anyway.
 

spotropaicsav

Arachnobaron
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I've started working with some researchers working on bumblebees, among other things, and one of the things we do is go out looking for nests. Now, bumblebee nests are very hard to find--one hole in the ground is very much like another. Thus, it appears the most reliable method ("reliable"--a low bar, indeed) is to track a bee from its foraging back to its nest. I went out today and found a couple bees that returned to their nest, but they fly back very quickly in a straight line. If I had been thinking I would have run after them, but that's iffy, because the grass in these fields is very tall and hard to run through. Thus, is there a way to even approximately track a bumblebee once it's made a beeline for its nest? (That's the actual term, by the way--beeline)

An additional question: what are their favorite plants? I've heard they like queen anne's lace, but I didn't find any despite searching through many tracts of it. I did, however, find two in what I think was bittersweet. What sorts of flowers should I look for? Will they eat grass pollen?

The work is in Massachusetts.
Sounds challenging! I know I would fall chasing after it, keep us updated if you find anything that works. Living vicariously through this post, sounds like a lot of fun
 

awiec

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I haven't seen any of these, but I will look for them.
Dame's Rocket, another invasive flower, also seems to be a favorite and is blooming right now. Though the easiest way to find a bumblebee is observing blueberry flowers but I'm not too sure how much your state grows them and flowering season has passed for the most part.
 

schmiggle

Arachnoprince
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Dame's Rocket, another invasive flower, also seems to be a favorite and is blooming right now. Though the easiest way to find a bumblebee is observing blueberry flowers but I'm not too sure how much your state grows them and flowering season has passed for the most part.
Massachusetts has tons of blueberries, and they might grow in the field. I will have to look.
 

Ranitomeya

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In my experience, one hole in the ground is certainly not like every other if you're looking for an established bumblebee nest. If you find the entrance to a bumblebee nest and it's sunny out and they're foraging, you should see workers constantly coming and going.

My experience with Bombus vosnesenskii here in California is that they like to nest in holes on sunny slopes. I just walk along slowly until I notice bumblebees flying in and out of the tall grass on the slopes. In hotter zones, they frequently nest at the bases of shrubs. I suggest getting an idea of where the species you're looking at prefers to nest and try to search those kinds of areas.
 

schmiggle

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In my experience, one hole in the ground is certainly not like every other if you're looking for an established bumblebee nest. If you find the entrance to a bumblebee nest and it's sunny out and they're foraging, you should see workers constantly coming and going.

My experience with Bombus vosnesenskii here in California is that they like to nest in holes on sunny slopes. I just walk along slowly until I notice bumblebees flying in and out of the tall grass on the slopes. In hotter zones, they frequently nest at the bases of shrubs. I suggest getting an idea of where the species you're looking at prefers to nest and try to search those kinds of areas.
This makes a lot of sense, and is potentially far more efficient than following individual workers. My only concern is that I think workers are only just starting to emerge, and I've still seen queens looking for nest sites, although they are few and late. I'm sure this will work much better later in the summer, though.
 

Ranitomeya

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This makes a lot of sense, and is potentially far more efficient than following individual workers. My only concern is that I think workers are only just starting to emerge, and I've still seen queens looking for nest sites, although they are few and late. I'm sure this will work much better later in the summer, though.
Ah, the weather here in California is pretty mild and we start seeing bumblebee queens looking for nests by February. The queens stopped searching for nesting places here at least a month ago and all the nests are very well established with streams of workers flying to and from nest entrances. It will indeed be more difficult to find new and relatively new nests.
 

TylerFishman5675

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Salvia, sunflower, narrowleaf plantain, They seem to enjoy toxic plants aswell like nightshades or rhododendron, they love them, If your looking to study them, start a colony :)
 

schmiggle

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I'm not going to start my own colony because one of the research goals is to find the detection probability of wild colonies. However, I did find my first colony yesterday :astonished: exciting stuff. That one happened to be particularly easy to spot.
 

TylerFishman5675

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I'm not going to start my own colony because one of the research goals is to find the detection probability of wild colonies. However, I did find my first colony yesterday :astonished: exciting stuff. That one happened to be particularly easy to spot.
Great! The colonies near me are usually loacated in abandoned chipmunk burrows, pretty nifty stuff, I hear they are supposed to be aggresive defending the nest, but the ones near me dont even acknowledge my presence.
 

spotropaicsav

Arachnobaron
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I'm not going to start my own colony because one of the research goals is to find the detection probability of wild colonies. However, I did find my first colony yesterday :astonished: exciting stuff. That one happened to be particularly easy to spot.
How did you do it in the end, just diligence?
 
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