Red-tailed Bumblebees Cooling their Nest

Red-tailed bees at nest holeWe’ve had record temperatures today and the red-tailed bumblebees in the nestbox near the back door have been making efforts to cool their nest. The bee on the right with its rear end to the nest hole was fanning its wings.

This bee was fanning its wings but so fast that they were barely visible.
This bee was fanning its wings but so fast that they were visible only as a blur.

Every time that I looked out there was a bee on duty, acting as a fan. The first time I noticed them doing this, at 11 o’clock this morning, there were two vibrating their wings right next to the hole but the colony was so busy that bees returning or emerging kept pushing them out of the way. After that there was only ever one on duty and there would be breaks when three bees emerged at once.

red-tailed beesHoney bees have been observed taking water into the hive to help with cooling but I couldn’t tell if the red-tails were doing this.

In the spring we saw blue tits and house sparrows taking an interest in the box. Last year the sparrows ousted a pair of blue tits that had started nesting but the red-tailed bees are definitely in charge this year. Barbara watched them chase off a wasp which was trying to get into the nest.

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