Monday, May 28, 2012

Over the past few weeks I have had a frequent visitor to my house: a particularly stupid bumblebee which I have come to name Dumblebee. As it turns out, she's not quite as stupid as I thought.

Click image to uncrop and embiggen.

For several days in a row I would be woken by a buzzing noise in my bedroom which turned out to be a bumblebee. She would be flinging herself against the glass in the exterior doors trying to figure out how to get outside. The first time it happened I was alarmed ("a giant bumblebee? in my bedroom?") but over time it become merely interesting ("hey, it's Dumblebee again! I wonder why she came back?"). Throughout the days I would see her flit in and out of the open exterior door. Sometimes she would fly to the other side of the house and became confused as to why she couldn't fly through the glass windows.  I would inevitably open the window and let her out.

After a while I decided to read up on bumblebees and discovered, as I suspected, that they're not particularly troublesome. They're not aggressive, and while they can sting multiple times (as they lack barbs on their stingers), they rarely do so unless threatened. Furthermore: they produce honey, their nests generally do not contain more than a few dozen bees and, like all pollinating insects, are beneficial to the plants, flowers and what-have-you.

Eventually, I decided that there was something more then mere affection towards me or escaping inclement weather that was driving her into my bedroom night after night. So the next time I saw her I waited patiently until she alighted on the floor; and then I watched her waddle across the room towards, and beneath, the closet door. Quietly opening the door and continuing to track her I realized the reason for her frequent visits: she was building a nest behind a box in my closet!

Fortunately, she hadn't got very far. There were a couple of sealed pods (presumably containing bumblebee larvae) and a few open pods waiting to be filled. I didn't want to mess with her while she was tending to her nest (that's precisely when I was likely to be stung) and left her alone to do a bit more reading about bumblebee nest making. The good news was that if a bumblebee nest is destroyed they will likely just go make another one somewhere else.

Later, after she left, I carefully scooped the beginnings of her nest into an abandoned flower pot and moved it to the far side of the yard and placed it in a spot I thought would make a good location for a new nest. Then I sealed the crack beneath the closet door with a towel and waited. If I had seen her again I would have attempted to capture and then release her where I relocated her nest - but I never did. In fact, I haven't seen her once since I moved the nest.

A couple weeks later I checked on the relocated nest and found it abandoned. I didn't really think it would work - but I had to try. Hopefully she's found a more suitable nest location and continues to go about her buzzzziness.


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