How to move bumblebees?

gumby_ct(CT it says Z5)May 29, 2007

While moving a lawn & leaf bag near my compost pile I stumbled upon a nest of what I think are bumblebees. They appear to bee (ha) in a collection of grass clippings that were inside the bag. I am an avid gardener and understand the concern about harming any pollinators.

My question is - What can I do to convince them to move elsewhere? Peacefully?

They do not appear to be agressive but now that I have exposed their hive and have to walk within 2ft of it, I am concerned they might think I am trying to harm them. Will spraying a stream of water so their home is soggy convince them to move elsewhere?

Any ideas are certainly welcome.



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Bumble bees!

They are such a blessing. It's all I see these days, honeybee's are extinct here it seems.
I'd recomend you leave them there, and plant flowers nearby where they can grow.
About how to move them peacefully, I don't know.

Walk up and ask the leader what to do! This may require a bee dance. Read up first to be sure. I've been stung by bumble bee's and it's a nice wake me up in the morning,.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 10:42PM
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thisbud4u(San Diego)

Seriously, I was working in an old barn in Vermont when I picked up what looked like an old abandoned mouse nest. Imagine my surprise when a bumblebee flew into it, and then one flew out, and then a whole bunch flew in and out, without hurting me at all. I just gently set it down in a corner of the barn where I'd already cleaned, and they were happy. While I wouldn't recommend picking up the nest intentionally without a bee suit, you should be able to simply move the nest to another suitable location. Drowning them with water would probably do them serious damage if not kill them all. Remember, their children are in there! Think of it that way.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 12:49AM
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Here is some input from Iowa State:

"Bumble bees are big, fuzzy insects recognized by almost everyone by their robust shape and black and yellow coloration. The common species are 3/4 inch in length or more. Like honey bees, bumble bees live in a colony where the adults care for the young (larvae) produced by a single queen. Bumble bee nests are small compared to honey bees, as each nest contains only a few hundred individuals. Also, unlike honey bees, a bumble bee nest is annual and is used only one year and then abandoned. Bumble bees may re-appear in the same area from one year to the next but they do not reuse an old nest. Bumble bee colonies are usually underground in a deserted mouse or bird nest though they are occasionally found within wall cavities or even in the clothes drier vent.

In the spring, each new queen selects a nest site and starts a new colony. She lines the cavity with dry grass or moss and then collects pollen and nectar to produce a stored food called "bee bread." Her first brood of offspring, (5 to 20), will all be workers (daughters) who take over the colony responsibilities of nest enlargement, food gathering and storage, and feeding and caring for the larvae. The queen continues to lay eggs throughout the summer. By late summer, new reproductive males and females (kings and queens) are produced. These mate on the wing and the fertilized females move to hibernation sites in the shelter of loose bark, hollow trees or other dry, protected places to lie dormant through the winter. The males and workers still in the colony die with frost or the first hard freeze.

If the vicinity of a bumble bee nest can be avoided, then leave them alone and wait for them to die in the fall as the preferred "management" option. Live-trapping bumble bees for relocation is not practical and covering the nest entrance does not usually solve the problem."

If the nest is indeed movable, my recommendation would be to do it on a dark, moonless night by disposable flashlight, and if you rouse the bees, throw the lit flashlight in one direction and run in the other, around and into your house through your unlit front door. Insects instinctively head for light.

Wear heavy leather gloves and jacket, long pants, a hat and scarf and a mask.

The cooler the night, the better; it will make the bees drowsy. Don't wait until dawn, as they will be getting up then.

You would probably need to slip a thin board or thick cardboard under the bag to maintain the integrity of the nest, and just place the whole arrangement under a remote shrub or in some other inconspicuous corner. Try to match the lighting and amount of exposure they presently have so they don't bake to death or get flooded out.

You may find, though, that your bees are actually in a tunnel under the clipping bag, and are just using that as an umbrella.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 2:56AM
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gumby_ct(CT it says Z5)

Tho I have not noticed any shortage of pollinators yet, I will likely leave well enuff alone. They do seem quite docile just nosey & scary when they buzz by you.

Through the years I have never had any problem because the bees are just busy working (doing the Lords work) and have not yet bothered me while working in the garden. I have seen bumblebees around in previous years but had no idea where they nested. This year & last I had thought they were up on the roof somewhere cuz I see them there often. There is likely another nest somewhere cuz I don't really see all that many walking on or leaving this nest.

This bag was new (OPL's) & just placed there last fall. The bag was ripped open when I picked it up. Surprised I wasn't stung. The nest is now fully exposed but I will keep an eye on them.

Thanks for the info, advice, and link.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 9:17PM
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ccrb1(z5 IND)

I got a call to remove bees from a crawlspace so a home sale can close. When I went there on Thursday night, they were bumblebees (small). I took one sting on the wrist and it's still swollen -- this from a guy who gets stung by honeybees all the time and has no reaction.

Veil and gloves and sleeves are the plan, as I pull thru the fiberglass insulation. I will pick up any wax cells I find, (I've already seen a few) and transfer them into a nuc box. The homeowner will repair the screen vent... and hopefully I can attract the bees into the nuc box where the cells will be.

Then I suppose the homeowner will need to spray bomb the crawl space to ensure any remaining bees are done for.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2007 at 7:55PM
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gumby_ct(CT it says Z5)

It looks like they are gone from where they were, now do I have to worry about where they moved to? Another lawn/leaf bag? Which I still have many of.

I think spraying them with water (before I posted) a couple nights followed by a couple heavy rainstorms made the clippings wet enough they up & went.

I noticed I hadn't seen them in a couple days, so I went and poked around with a loooong stick, no sign of the bees, who had been just milling around on the surface of the grass clippings.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 2:03PM
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Have the bees send me an email. I have lots of places for them to nest. I had bumblebees by my garage for a few years but none this year. They were peaceful neighbors and we got along great. They worked my tomato and other plants while I did too.

Now, this year I have seen only one and no honeybees although I have spirea blossoming great as well as several other perennials that have already blossomed. Even the flowering annuals are not attracting them. Not like a few years ago when I had a lot of pollinators. Now I am going to get a paintbrush each veggie flower that needs help. I am considering shaking some tomato vines/blossoms in a large plastic bag and helping them even tho they should self pollinate. Won't hurt, right?

Does the bee mite/virus or whatever it is kill African bee colonies? I have not heard but if it does, why not use it?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 4:06PM
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We have a large "sinkhole" bordering the street and sidewalk to the street that seems to be a bumbleebee home. The hole keeps growing - it is a hazard to walkers and my dog! My idiot brother-in-law poured gasoline into the entrance hole, and the bees vanished for about a week - but they returned. It is getting cooler now, and activity is nil -- should I dig it up? I don't want to kill them - just move them.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 4:02PM
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gumby_ct(CT it says Z5)

What will you do with them if/when you dig them up?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 4:22PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

Sounds like wasp, liv2sng, let them bee, winter is coming and most will die.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 12:32AM
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I keep meat tenderizer in my tool bag & always have a water bottle with me. I just got stung by a bee that was part of a colony nesting under my nepata. I poured about a tablespoon of meat tenderizer in my palm, a few drops of water to make a paste & applied it to the spot on my inner wrist where I was stung. Voila--no more pain. I've used this many times on a variety of bee stings. In the past the area would get very swollen and painful, then itch for a couple of weeks. When I use this paste, I get minimal swelling and after effects of the sting.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2013 at 10:33AM
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gumby_ct(CT it says Z5)

That is good to know.

The active ingredient in meat tenderizer is papain. The reason I know that is it is used as a preservative in some products like a contact lense protein remover that I reacted to back in 1991. So a word of caution about papain - I also react to papaya - just an upset stomach or bleeding red eyes depending on how it was ingested or applied.

What I have used thru the years is baking soda and water mixed into a paste then applied to the sting area. So keep that in mind if you don't have a meat tenderizer.

btw - I also use ~1/8 tsp baking soda mixed into a swallow or two of water for upset stomach. This works immediately and better than most products sold for indigestion relief. I chase it with more water ;-)

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 9:47AM
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