When choosing flowers for my garden I try to buy things which will be good for wildlife, bees especially as they need all the help they can get. Many bumblebee species are struggling to survive, mainly due to changes to the countryside. Agricultural techniques have changed which means there are fewer wildflowers than there used to be which is bad news for bees.
Bumblebees are great pollinators and without them fruit and vegetable yields would suffer.
However, as fond as I am of these furry little creatures I don't want them living in my house and that's where I think they may have set up home. Last week I noticed about half a dozen bees buzzing around the guttering. Since then I've been doing my homework and a little bit of research has led me to believe that they're tree bumblebees or bombus hypnorum. They may have a nest around the guttering, underneath the fascia boards or more worryingly, in the loft, I daren't poke my head up there to look.
There's only three bees in the above photo but there's many more than that buzzing around when it's a sunny day, perhaps up to a dozen at any one time.
From what I've read, they don't seem to do any damage and bumblebee nests don't survive long, the nest dies naturally within a few months.
Tree bumblebees are new to the UK arriving from Europe and Asia. The first sighting was in 2001 and since then, they have spread rapidly throughout the UK and Wales. These type of bees build their nests well above ground, many in bird boxes using old nests, though they've even been known to evict blue tits from their nest before using it for themselves.
I've been watching them swooping down to the cotoneaster, a favourite of the bees, before flying back up to rejoin their buddies dancing around the nest.
There's some great information in Clive Hill's Introducing the 'Tree Bumblebee' Bombus hypnorum article if you want to read more about this species of bumblebee.
I suppose I'm going to have to put up with them until the end of summer but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that a new queen doesn't take a fancy to the same nesting space again next year.