What are they doing?

SunshineAnnieDeb(5)June 12, 2005

I have a wooden birdhouse about 2 feet long that looks like an old red barn. I set it on my deck bench every summer as a decoration. It has 5 holes in the front. For the past three summers we've noticed bees move in. They don't bother us so I let them stay. They look like bumble bees, but they are smaller. We see one going in and out occasionally, and if we bump it they buzz. But none come out or anything.

Today, there are three or four sitting outside the hole buzzing their wings. The whole thing is humming. Every once in a while one will crawl inside, and then back out and stop with the others to buzz it's wings. Another bee came and flew into a different hole and I noticed it had bright red on it's hind legs. In a couple of minutes it flew out. No one has bumped it or bothered them today that I know of unless the cat did.

Any ideas what kind they are and what they are doing?

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amymcg(z5 MA)

Not sure exactly what they are, but when they are outside buzzing their wings, they are creating bee air conditioning. They are fanning their wings to keep the hive at a constant temperature. If it's recently gotten hot in your area, that's what you'll see. As far as the red stuff, it might be pollen.
Do you have a picture of them? Are they fuzzy or smooth?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2005 at 6:19PM
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SunshineAnnieDeb(5)

They are fuzzy, with a yellow stripe. They look like mini bumble bees to me. I'll try to get a picture.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2005 at 6:23PM
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SunshineAnnieDeb(5)

Here are some pictures that I just took of them. I don't think that was pollen on the legs, it wasn't bulgy and it was too bright red.
Click on the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: bees

    Bookmark   June 12, 2005 at 6:42PM
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amymcg(z5 MA)

I'm 90% sure they are just bumblebees. There are so many subspecies of them with different markings, you just wouldn't believe it. It's hard to entice bumbles to move, and if so inclined they can get you more than once, unlike honeybees.

As far as the red stuff, well, who knows. . .

    Bookmark   June 12, 2005 at 10:04PM
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SunshineAnnieDeb(5)

It looks like they've stuffed it with grass clippings. Or else moved into an old mouse nest. I bet they are hot as the birdhouse has a tin roof and it sits in the sun all afternoon! I don't mind them there.They don't seem to pay any attention to us at all. I even accidently sprinkled them with water tonight and they didn't even move. Except when we have company. Then I might need to move it. yikes!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2005 at 11:00PM
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SunshineAnnieDeb(5)

I was just looking up carpenter bees on google, and they look like that pretty much I think. Their wings are black I believe. Hard to tell with them buzzing! Maybe if they are I should take the house away from our deck?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2005 at 11:09PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

Looks like bumble bees to me, you have some nice pets....enjoy them.
Konrad

    Bookmark   June 12, 2005 at 11:53PM
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ccrb1(z5 IND)

bumblebees and carpenter bees are solitary bees aren't they? I've never seen a mess of em like this. Unless this is the brood of a bumblebee queen, but around here bumbles nest in the dirt.

Fascinating.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 1:01AM
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SunshineAnnieDeb(5)

There seem to be about three sizes of them crawling in and out. I don't know alot about bees, but they sure do love my big perennial gardens! We have some huge bumble bees. I think it's funny to watch them try to squeeze into the flowers.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 7:31AM
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hscsusiq(z7 VA)

Congratulations!!! You have a bumblebee nest (Hive)! Yes, pollen can be really bright red, or even purple. Any color a flower can be, so is pollen. They form balls of pollen to lay their eggs on and the nest can have as many as 300 females. Though they can sting, they rarely do, even when provoked. Watch them for your own enjoyment, and don't move the nest if you can help it. We need all the pollenators we can get. You are Very Lucky to get to watch them this summer. They will die off during the winter and the new, mated queen will go below the frost line to wait for spring. The cycle will repeat.... Move the box in the winter if you want. Another queen will find it, I hope! Susi at VirginiaCountryLife.blogspot,com

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 7:57AM
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amymcg(z5 MA)

Carpenter bees are similar, black shiny buts, but they bore into wood to lay eggs. This is a bumblebee nest definitely.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 9:42AM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

Annie,
there is a nice bumble bee video I have posted on top, [new thread] it will explain allot
of the unknown.
Konrad

    Bookmark   June 14, 2005 at 1:47AM
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LauraHinNJ

I found a nest of bumblebees doing the same exact thing earlier this week! The poor things have built their nest under a slate slab near my pond - I knew the nest was there, but heard the loud buzzing the other day and saw the bumblebees fanning their wings outside the entrance tunnel. It must be really hot under that slate!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2005 at 7:35PM
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