240 - Bumble bee nest relocation and rearing (in English)

Este contenido ha sido traducido automáticamente. El servicio de Extensión de Oregon State University (OSU) no garantiza la exactitud del texto traducido. Consulte la versión original en inglés para confirmar la información.


240 - Bumble Bee Removal and Rearing

Andony Melathopoulos: [00:00:00] From the Oregon State University Extension Service, this is pollination, a podcast that tells the stories of researchers, land managers, and people like you who are making bold strides to improve the health of pollinators. I'm your host, Dr. Adon Opolis, associate Professor of Pollinator Health in the Department of Horticulture.

There's so many things I love about the extension service, and one of them has to be this. Website portal called Ask Extension. It's nationwide and basically wherever you are, if you had a question about anything including pollinators, you can type it in and a relevant expert will get back to you in a really short period of time.

Myself, other faculty members at Oregon State University and volunteers field the questions on pollinators and one question that comes up. Every year. Every year like clockwork. In the [00:01:00] spring, I have a Bumblebee Nest in a bird house, and later in the summer I get questions. I've got bumblebees and an attic and some insulation.

I. I just know the time of year when I get those questions knew I needed a podcast episode dedicated to this question, and so I knew also who to talk to. Steve Gomes is a master beekeeper and also master Tologist in the Portland area. He's been fielding these questions for years now, and he's also really curious about Bob MPIs and has started to rear them.

In at his home. It's really remarkable. So this podcast goes out. I'm gonna link it out every time I get a question about bumblebees and birdhouses or any other structure cause Steve is your person and he's here with you this week on pollination.

Steve, you're here. I'm so excited to finally have you on the show, Ivan. Plotting this episode for a [00:02:00] while. Welcome to pollination. Thank you. I remember I remember talking with you about bumblebees one night after a Tuan beekeepers association meeting, and you and I sat in front of the doorway.

All the cars had left, and we must have talked for about an hour. But you, it was clear you had deep fascination for bumblebees.

Steve Gomes: Yes. I can't remember. That's gotta be five years ago now. Oh yeah. You called me. Back in 2017, I believe, Uhhuh. Cause this all started up in 2018 at the Oregon Gardens.

You asked me if and my wife actually wanted that big poster of all the bees and you used me as collateral to, for her to get that. But no I got involved with Oregon Bee Project at that time and the Oregon Master of Beekeepers at the same time. And it was just an interesting mix of two sides of the issue.

I think in Oregon. We're very fortunate in that both of [00:03:00] those programs are under the same roof at Oregon State. And so there's some common, we've got shared resources, but we also have people from both walks in both a culture and in native pollinators that are involved in these programs. And so we're, I think we're very unique as a state to have that.

It gives us I, I think better collaboration and a lot more access to resources, and I think the flip side of

Andony Melathopoulos: it is we have people like yourself who are, master level beekeepers. I've I remember going out on your disease competency. You're really thorough when it comes to bee colony.

But also just expansive knowledge of native bees. And I don't, there's not a lot of people on this earth like that.

Steve Gomes: It's a lot of fun. The two fields of study marry very well together. They're complimentary and they, and then in real life, they affect one another.

The I didn't think that. I didn't think about native pollinators. I would've been keeping bees for over 40 years and the last several years being involved in this program has really opened my [00:04:00] eyes into APA culture practices and how. I just had a conversation.

T P B A membership, a couple of the members are saying how their friends who were like, were raising peach and corn crops were being negatively affected by commercial beekeepers, dumping colonies. And they were tearing up their fruit and their crops, which was their livelihood to, because there were no nectar sources out there.

So they were going after the fruit, anything sweet. So there's there, there's. There's a lot of, is many facets to these issues that, that we all can kinda lean into.

Andony Melathopoulos: The other thing that I often think is similarly from an APA culture background and then moving into native native bees afterwards, is that we know a lot about a ppu.

APIs is a well-studied, when it comes to insects, it is the examplar. When the physiology, how waxes made, like all the stuff is like nicely delineated and you're confronted on the other hand, with bumblebees, for example. Where the knowledge is scant, there's little dribs and [00:05:00] drabs where someone like you who's become really fascinated with both rearing bumblebees, but also helping the public relocate bumblebees, you are confronted with this wall of kind of uncertainty.

Steve Gomes: Yeah I realized that I didn't know very much, and that's one reason why I've kept going out. And relocating and inspecting these nests. Now that's when like link posted that information about going into the central cascades and finding an occidentalis nest and the great care that they took and exhibited and documented, it's almost like an archeological discovery, but it's, it requires that kind of attention to detail.

If we're going to learn what we need to know about these creatures we're gonna have to really. Gather the information and a metered and effective way to be able to come up with some knowledge that can be used to help manage. And just so

Andony Melathopoulos: listeners who don't know what you're referring to, are Taxonomist Lincoln Best with US Fish and Wildlife Service and US Forest Service last [00:06:00] year went through this crazy excavation.

They've, they it, the meters down. They found this Western Bumblebee Nest and going through it and trying to glean as much information as on it as possible. And I guess. On your end of things you're in an urban area,

Steve Gomes: you're in the Portland area,

Andony Melathopoulos: and you started to deal with what I, I get as well.

I think you've really taken it to the level you're our go-to in the state now when it comes to, bubble bees in the public where somebody. And their backyard has run into a bumblebee nest. And it may be, under, I've had them underneath sheds. Coming out of the structure, they're somewhere underneath the, they're in the the foundation or more commonly, and this is passed already, but there was that period that, that month period where I've got these bumblebees with an orange band.

Living in my bird house. There's this great, people are, so tell us a little bit about those calls and who are, what are people, how when [00:07:00] did you start to get interested in these calls and was been your response?

Steve Gomes: In 2018, one of my clients is Walton Valley Water District in Clean Water Services here in the Beaverton area, and they have thousands of water meters.

With those nice little metal lids and those nice little rectangular holes. And usually there's insulation, especially at higher altitudes that's thrown in top of the metering equipment to keep it from freezing. That makes just a dandy nest box. You got this little defensible hole a metal front door, and in they go and then the guy comes along and tries to read the meter.

Once, they come out a winter and they're staring at a bunch of bumblebees. And so I would go out and they would. Flag the box for me with a little surveying flag. And then I'd go out in the evening and then I would pull the nest out and I'd take a picture of it and send it back to the the field supervisor, let him know that box was okay to go work in.

And that's how I got started doing it. And then I just, had my ear out. I talked to some fire stations and the police [00:08:00] departments, I said, if you guys get issues with bumblebees, gimme a call. I might be able to help you. But I got to the point where I wanted to see as many nests as I could see.

I can relocate him if I can. To conserve the resource. But if I can't, then I'm gonna take what I can what's left of the nest, and curate it and turn it into educational displays. So I tell people when I collect your Nest if it doesn't make it, it's gonna go into educational outreach materials.

And I show 'em, I, I pack one with me and I show it to them. I say, here's what it'll turn into. And they think that's pretty neat. And it's. I've been taking 'em back into the schools now that Covid is gone o off the scene. And the teachers absolutely love it. They like seeing the Bumblebee nests and honeybees, and then the collection of native pollinators.

But that's how I got into it, taking care of ton Valley Water District and it's just grown from there. I've the master gardeners internationally enough. Very well connected group in our state and they field a lot of calls for Bumblebee Nest and getting to know Stephanie [00:09:00] Hazen.

She started to talk to me about this, I think three years ago. And she said, we need somebody to feel these calls. I even wanted to start up a Bumblebee nest relocation effort, but it takes a set of special skills. You have to be comfortable handling angry stinging insects. And the beekeeping side of me, I'm used to doing that.

And so that's not a problem. But the bumblebees respond differently. You just, you have to handle 'em a little bit differently than honeybees. What's the first

Andony Melathopoulos: thing? So I guess you get the call and somebody says, I have oh, Mr. Gomes, people have told me, oh, you're the only person who can help.

I've got these bumblebees and they're coming out of a, they're in my bird house. I'm, what do I do? What's the first thing that you say

Steve Gomes: to them? I say send pictures. Okay. And I said, and I'll ask them, when did you first notice them? So they, typically they don't notice them until there's bees in there and the bees are flying at them, or attempting to defend their nest.

So if I get pictures back and I said, I want to be able to identify them, and I said, the best time to take your pictures is early in the morning or [00:10:00] just before dusk. And I said, because they'll be back, they'll be around the entrance, but they'll be quieter. They won't be coming and going. And that way I know I'm not headed out to collect a yellow jacket nest out of the ground which I do, I and I go prepared to find a yellow jacket, nest and have to Do you try to talk them down from removing?

Oh, yes. Yeah. I ask them what is your reason for removing them? And I sometimes people have been, I had this one wonderful 88 year old lady who had a birdhouse on the side of her greenhouse right next to the door, and every time she'd open and close the door those ladies had come boiling out and she'd get stung.

She'd probably been st stunned eight times. And and she just said, I just, I can't, I, I've gotta get into my greenhouse. And so I moved the birdhouse off of her greenhouse over to the far corner of her yard on the fence. And that solved a problem for her. And so that's what I try to do first.

I said if you can change your habits around the nest, it will be gone by the end of summer. And I said, is that possible here? [00:11:00] Being inconvenient is one thing, but impossible is another thing. And if they have someone.

Andony Melathopoulos: I've done that as well and people are just not aware that it's an annual nest.

Yes. They think it's gonna keep going and if they don't deal with it now, but when you tell them it's by the end of summer, it's gonna collapse. Yeah.

Steve Gomes: I have these little placards that I send out with with the I'm just showing this to you and Donny. Yeah. Yeah. Life cycle shows the life cycle of a nest, and I have those with me in my box that I take when I harvest a nest and it just shows them that this is a nest that starts with a solitary queen and it goes through summer. Then it declines once they the gys, the new queens are out and the males are out and there's nothing stored for the to over winter. I says it just becomes flatter for other creatures.

To consume. Yeah. And that, that understanding and then also I said if you can reduce traffic around it or sometimes moving a barrier I had lady put up a she had a a partition. She had in her [00:12:00] garage and she brought it outside and threw some sandbags on it, and the bees had to go to the left or the right, they couldn't come straight out and fly into the yard.

So she, she created a way to divert the bees and left them in place. Ah, okay. There's some management things and sometimes there's construction constrain. Constraints that are going on, people are tearing something apart or remodeling it, and the bees are right in the middle of it.

And you have to move them. They're either gonna get moved or the nests gonna fail. Let, yeah. So let's say you got an underground nest, it can't, they've

Andony Melathopoulos: got, it's right by where the, the, you, the high traffic area. Let's say it's a municipal park and it's like the, so how do you do the relocation?


Steve Gomes: involved there? I let 'em know that I'm gonna be out there about an hour after dusk. My, my goal is to collect all the individuals I can. I don't wanna do it during the day. And if it's really warm out, sometimes there's individuals that overnight in flowers remote from the Nest.

And I always let 'em know that I said, we may not get every single beat. There may be a few of them that are hanging around that didn't make it back to the nest at night, [00:13:00] but we're gonna try to come late. And then what I do is I prepare, the first thing I do is I clear the area around the nest entrance carefully not to disturb them.

And then I use my vacuum with my special containment chamber in it. It's a very gentle vacuum, and I'm, what I'm doing is I'm pulling them into this containment chamber that has a lot of holes in it, and I collect all of the defensive bees off the nest. And what you'll do is you'll continually, You, if you provoke the nest, they'll come out and I just suck them up right off the entrance and.

And I keep doing that until they don't get any more individuals. Occasionally one may come out of the nest and look at you and then run right back down into it. Once you get to that point, you can collect the nest, you can pick it up and gently lift it out of wherever it's at. And it is, can vary widely.

I've taken nests out of old furniture that was behind a garage in the Upholsters cotton out of a bramble, a pile of brambles. I've had. Cut a whole bunch of sticks away [00:14:00] slowly, and then come up with a, like a grapefruit sized cluster in the middle of all of this. See, often they're on the ground, on top of leaves and decaying wood.

Just a variety of substrates that they're in. But what I try to do is I try to define the edges of the nest and where the mantle is. And the mantle is the. The wax cap that goes over the top, and they'll have a couple entrances in it. But once I define where that is I have a, just a couple, a very slender pry boriss, and I will go around and loosen the dirt.

What my whole goal is to get my hands underneath that nest in its entirety, and then lift it and gently set it down in a box. And then the boxes that I have are like nine by 12. About, eight inches tall and they're like a little tiny beehive with a oath, a bottom that's screwed on there's no bottom entrance.

There's just a little hole in the front that I cover with steel wall, and and then I have a lexan cover that allows me to look down into it. [00:15:00] But once I set that nest in there, then what I'll do is I'll take that small jar that was in that collection vacuum, and I'll put, I'll take it home with me. Put it in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.

Cool them down. And once they're moving a lot slow, then I just lift the Lexan lid and pour them onto the nest, and then everyone's reunited, and then I'll set 'em in a new location. I do this all in the dark. Set 'em in a new location. Leave them there for about an hour, let 'em calm down.

And then I'll pull the steel wheel out of the entrance. And then in the morning they find they're in a new spot and reorient. Amazing. But my goal is to keep the queen who founded that nest intact with her nest and with all of her workers as many as possible so they can continue building that nest and eventually rear Queens at the end of the season and have it be a success reproductively.

What are some

Andony Melathopoulos: of the tips? Let's say there's some people listening to this and they're in Washington or Idaho and they'd like to take this up. What's what are some of the [00:16:00] places that you get stuck? And I like the idea of the vacuum, a gentle vacuum, just to kinda I. Waft away the bees. Cause I imagine if you go in there without taking the be away, it's just, you just, you have bees on your arms and it's just a

Steve Gomes: like all over the place.

You wanna pro it's animal husbandry. It's those skills. How do I get the criter to go and do what I need it to do for its benefit in mine? And with the bumblebees I wanna collect all the defensive bees that's, I found that is it's far easier to deal with the nest.

It's like, When you do a cutout with honeybees you'll open up the wall and you'll just vacuum them into a super that has frames and once you get all of the ERs and the garden bees sucked up in, into that chamber, you're left with just the nurse bees who would adhere to the comb and the queen.

And those are really easy to, a lot easier to handle without all those defensive means trying to chase you off. And That's the first thing is get yourself a vacuum. I've got details about how. How I, I built [00:17:00] mine out of a Milwaukee battery powered fo vault vacuum. And I just came across one today.

It said Harbor Freight. I'm gonna post it too. It shows great promise and it's a lot less money than the Milwaukee. And it has a Oh, Harbor Freight. Yeah. A semi viewable dust chamber on it, so you could keep track of what's going on inside of it. But that, that really has turned out I made that vacuum to, to collect bees for the Be Atlas, and it wasn't a good idea for that.

But it was a great idea for for dealing with the bumblebees. So it's worked really well.

Andony Melathopoulos: So you need to wear a bee suit, but I imagine a smoker isn't gonna help you in this.

Steve Gomes: No, you don't wanna smoke them. Okay. It's you're gonna irritate a nest at night, Uhhuh. And that's, that's just like irritating.

And at night with bees are things like oil and water. They don't mix. They compound, they amplify the issue. But with bumblebees, they are very ominous sounding. And if you move, if you just have to be patient, [00:18:00] you move slow and you're jungle with them. And like I said the key thing for me is collecting the defensive individuals.

They're gonna come out, there's gonna be ones that charge out and want to challenge you, and you just suck 'em up with a vacuum cleaner. You wait for, you provoke and wait and provoke and wait and provoke and wait. And when there's no more challengers, then you just dig a little bit deeper and you may find a few more, but essentially you're down to the nest and those that are caring for what's in the nest.

And no one else is gonna come out and bother you, and you just have everything ready. I will take a five by seven plastic tarp with me and I'll put it right close to where the nest is and I'll move any material onto that. And that way if bees exit, I'm not sucking up dirt with them, I'm just getting the bees off of the tarp.

And just prepare everything, have it all ready. I have extra batteries. I actually use one more item. I have a really strong neon work light, and it's directional and I can vary the amount of light that it puts out. And if I've got bees that decided to fly, I will put this [00:19:00] down next to the nest and they will fly down to that light.

The only light that I have on my body is a red l e d. And I use that to view the nest, but I use that light to attract those bees and collect them with the vacuum, if any of them fly. So that seems to work really well. So

Andony Melathopoulos: how many nests do you collect in a year? What, how's this? How?

Steve Gomes: Two years ago I collected 30, I'm looking here 36 Wow. Sizes. This year I've only collected eight. So far, but it's been a really cool spring and so I think a lot of them either didn't start or got started late.

Andony Melathopoulos: Are they mostly Bombas, Fensky and Bombas Milana PGAs or

Steve Gomes: yeah, I'm I I'm trying to remember what's the last species that I collected.

It was last year. It was a guy was doing tractor work out in Oregon City. I was out there collecting a swarm and he says, I got more bees over [00:20:00] here. And he had up a Bumblebee nest and it was I can't remember what it was. It wasn't greasy at Coli, it was something else. Anyway. Oh I'll have to look back and see, but it was, the nest had been flipped over with a plow and, but it was intact and so I was able to gather it all up and bring it home.

And it finished out at season here and my backyard. But more, more often than not, it's those two species.

Andony Melathopoulos: Okay. Let's take a quick break. I wanna come back and ask you just a couple more questions if I can, about rearing bumblebees, which you've started to take up more recently.

Steve Gomes: Okay.

Okay. We

Andony Melathopoulos: are back. So you have I first saw this on Facebook. I was just like, what? My goodness, you're pulling this off so you have. Been spring trapping mated queens and rearing them inside, at least getting the nests [00:21:00] initiated. Tell us about that. Why on earth did you, I can piece together you just, your interest in bumblebees has been deepening, but how did you get, where did you start?

Did you have a resource? Was there a book or did you just kinda wing it?

Steve Gomes: I, when I started relocating bumblebees, I. I got to talking with a fellow in the Department of Forestry down at Oregon State, and he was really interested in getting a hold of ness and I asked him why. And he says we can't import bubble bees into Oregon.

And I said that's interesting. And that it I didn't think anything more of it for a while. And then as I, I. Got deeper into the native pollinators and then the interaction in be between honeybees, APA culture, and native pollinators. I wanted to have some specific questions answered.

One of them was, are there any. Trans specific diseases when it comes to APA culture and native pollinators. And there are trans, there are you get deformed wing virus [00:22:00] and you get Noma in bumblebees. They're specific species, but they are susceptible to those things. And Our APA culture practices can influence the li the vitality of our native bumblebee populations, where those honeybees are placed what sort of populations of bumblebees are there.

And we d we don't know that much about them. We don't know which ones are more vulnerable to these diseases or less or any of that. So we've got so much to learn. And so I thought to myself there may be some value in rearing bumblebees native ones here in Oregon. And I have some friends who kept Property out in North Plains, they have about three acres of blueberries, known it for 30 years.

And I've surveyed their property for part of the be atlas and there were five species of bumblebees out there at one year. And this year before last, they had a horrible fruit set. And I went out and I looked, and there were no bumblebees out there for the most part. Very low population.

But we [00:23:00] had severe winter and very cold. And so I started thinking to myself if we, if I could gather bumblebees from an area where they're plentiful and, not too far away and captive rear them, and then take those nests out there they might get a better fruit set. And I thought I said I don't know anything about that.

So I started to do research and. People that have been rearing bumblebees they keep their techniques pretty close to the chest. They don't share information, they don't want to talk about it. I did come across one group in Canada that's just trying to captive rear native bumblebees for conservation purposes.

And we're starting a dialogue about what, how they do it versus what

Andony Melathopoulos: Oh, yeah. Wildlife conservation. Can we had the, we had a podcast on them

Steve Gomes: actually. Yeah. Yeah. So anyway, interesting folks. Very high tech in their approach. But anyway, what I'm, I wanna, I wanted to do was to help my friends with their fruit set issue and learn a little bit about rearing these in captive situation.

And so [00:24:00] that, I went out and I started doing research and I tried, I started doing this in 2019. And on a small scale. And I tr I've tried three or four ways. It didn't work. And then I came across a, an interesting book published by university of Minnesota Extension and by Elaine Evans Ian Burns and the very famous Marla Spva.

Yeah. And these, what she did is she had grad students that were learning how to raise bumblebees, and they went out and they gleaned different techniques. And and then they tested them in the lab and pub published this little book called Befriending Bumblebees. And so I got ahold of a copy of it and went through it, and then went through the references on biology and on rearing bumblebees, and just started to go find out what was true and what was not, and what was a hearsay when it came to, to actually doing this.

And and each year my success has gotten better and better. This year I got to about the fourth week and [00:25:00] then I had a huge die off in the beats. Both the queens and the workers just died and so I'm doing research right now and into what sort of diseases occur in captive rear, and if anybody's willing to talk about it, because that's the ugly side of animal husbandry.

When my. My creature has died. Am I gonna tell anybody about it? It makes me that's, To me, some of the most profound research, that's when science really becomes a very useful pool, is when we bear ourselves and we look at what we've done and how we've done it, and try to learn from that. And that's why I've very grateful to have a university and a resources around.

But any, anyway, that's how I got started.

Andony Melathopoulos: So walk us through just what is the, what, how does this start? Tell us how you started this

Steve Gomes: season. The very first thing you have to do is you have to find out where and when. The local populations of overwintered queens come out in forage. At the very beginning of the year they're have used up their fat reserves and they [00:26:00] need to get their strength and vigor backs so they can found the nest.

And so Heather is probably the best one in a suburban environment. It is blooming in February and it blooms all the way through the end of March. And it's a good nectar in pollen source. And so I will I found a couple places with large plannings of Heather the next. Plant made. Okay, so these mated

Andony Melathopoulos: already mated wintered queens.

They already been mated the previous year. They pop out, they start forging on the heather and then Steve comes.

Steve Gomes: Yeah. And so I'm looking, I and what I you have to do is you have to watch these areas closely because as the weather warms up, they'll come out at the earliest possible time and they may only come out for an hour or two during the day.

They know when the weather's right. And there's a book. Written by Bar Heiner. It's called Bumblebee Economics. And if you really want to get sick and deep when it comes to bumblebees, that's a good book to start with. He talks about[00:27:00] the thermo regulation. That, that bumblebees exercise to be able to survive.

And they're really amazing as to how they do it, but they know how much energy they can expend to get out to this nectar and pollen source and gather whatever they can get and then get back to a hiding place without going in the red. And and that's the main deal. They have got to keep gaining fat and be able to, Get to the point where they can lay eggs and have enough pollen stored in, in the bur that they pick abandoned rodin burro to be able to start a nest.

So what you're gonna do is you're gonna intervene at the point between them replenishing their stores physically and starting a nest. And you go to these flowers, you find the queens. That have not got any pollen on their legs, and you can usually watch 'em. They behave differently. The queens that established Nest are very deliberate.

They don't hang around, they don't look for holes around the Heather. They gather the pollen and they, and then they're out of there. So you avoid those queens, you're gathering the ones [00:28:00] without pollen on their legs and you're using Oh, cause

Andony Melathopoulos: they've already started a nest thing that you don't want Exactly.

Hasn't started

Steve Gomes: yet. Okay, gotcha. Right there. There may be a clutch of eggs back there that she's gotta get back to and continue to incubate. So what you do is you you have made small nesting chambers and in, in befriending bumblebees there's diagram, there's websites that you can go to look at different designs of these, but they're a small box.

About three inches by three inches by six inches long. And they have, are divided into two chambers. One, you exclude the light from the other one you provide a nectar source in. And then divider has a small half inch hole that the queen can climb to and fro between these chambers. But anyway, you put her in a dark, warm place, in the mid eighties, about 60% humidity.

Make it nice and dark like she would be underground in a borough. And you leave her with a pollen ball that's been dipped in beeswax fresh pollen. This is not dried. It's fresh and about three eighths of an inch diameter. Oh honey bee trapped [00:29:00] pollen. Honey bee trapped pollen. But it, the fresher the better cuz they're looking for high quality food.

Okay. And she. She will consume as much as that as she possibly can, and you may have to replenish it after a week or three days cuz she's eaten so much of it. But you leave her a ball and what she does is she lays eggs on the, on that ball, half dozen eggs or so, and then she'll incubate them with her body.

No, the period of about three to four weeks, those eggs will go through metamorphosis, cate, and eventually you'll get small workers. And those workers will vary inci, depending on the amount of pollen that she is able to feed, provide for food for them. But once they emerge, they start taking over the duties of wh building wax cups and foraging, and sure duties primarily become feeding herself and laying eggs.

Andony Melathopoulos: And you're also, I guess you're also feeding nectar at the same time. Oh,

Steve Gomes: yes. Yeah. There's a the design of these nesting boxes, they're elevated up in the air about two and a half inches, and you put a two, a little sauce cup. [00:30:00] Underneath there the, you would get ketchup or something condiment in, you pierce a hole on top of that and put a plastic s straw through with a cotton sua a cotton gauze pad rolled up as a wick.

And what it does is it's up against the screen on the bottom side of this secondary chamber, in a nest box, and that's where she will get her carbohydrate from, is from that nectar. And it's a thin. A thin syrup, it's one part water to a quarter part sugar. So it's very thin,

Andony Melathopoulos: basically.

She doesn't need to leave because you've supplied all the resources there. She just has to focus on

Steve Gomes: rearing her brood. Yes. And about 50% of the queens that you You'll confine will show tendencies to make a nest if within two weeks they're not doing anything, I take them back to where I collected them and I release them and let 'em have a shot at doing it.

And then the interesting thing is, this year, all of the queens that I caught that didn't do well, they gained weight. They were bigger and fatter and fed. So when I released them, the [00:31:00] chances of survival I figured would probably be a lot higher. Because they weren't out there in that cold, wet weather not getting to the sources that they needed.

I hopefully I did some good for them and they were able to establish nests, but out, out of let's say outta 10 queens that you gather, five of 'em may attempt to establish a nest. And out of those five, two, maybe three, will actually do it. And so that there's, there's just enough variability, things that we don't know that affect that nesting behavior.

That would limit that. And I asked Lincoln I, I said, what percentage of the queens that are produced out of a nest each year actually found in Nest the following year? And he couldn't give me an answer. He says, there's too many variables. There's the environment, there's the food supply, there's predation, there's diseases.

It can vary from year to year.

Andony Melathopoulos: I remember reading the old studies of Hobbs, the Nest box. Studies and just how many dead queens. Oh. Are the entrance that, that a queen goes in and finds a nice spot, another one comes in, and so there's like this pile of dead [00:32:00] queens that just. Can accumulate at a good spot.

They're just duking it out for good real estate. It

Steve Gomes: is. There's there, you look at that and you go what a terribly inefficient way of to reproduce a species. There's a side of that. From a competitive perspective, the strongest, most vigorous queens survive.

I had one honeybee queen. That I took out of my over Winter Queen bank and I just as an experiment, I said I've got 10 queens in here and six of 'em made it through the winter and I'm just gonna throw one back into the bank and let her be the queen there. I said, they've fed her all year long.

They know who she is along with the other six that survived. I figured there'd be no problem the next time I looked at that queen, her wings were all torn up. They'd plucked all the hair off of the top of her body, but she was still hay eggs. But they had really been rough on that queen and I'm sure that in a competitive environment, those queens will battle it out for a prime nest spot.

And cuz that's passing on those genetics is what that is. Okay, so you've

Andony Melathopoulos: Taken, you've [00:33:00] gone through and you've gotten the system and you've hit a bit of a roadblock. What are you gonna try next? Next year when you try this try to bring them all the, Ima imagine the goal is you bring 'em all the way to

Steve Gomes: reproduction.

Yeah. I'd like to bring a half dozen of them all the way through to, to fullness. What happens is when the g, here's the goal, once you started on these smallness boxes, when you get to about 20 individuals, then you will move them into a larger chamber. Because at that point they can start foraging and you support them for a couple more weeks with pollen and nectar as they get attuned to flying out of the nest and foraging.

You have 'em in a permanent location and then you just let that nest grow. You just unplug from it and let them gather the pollen and the nectar they need to be able to continue to grow. And so that's, I was probably about two weeks away from that. When I lost my nest. So I'm gonna do a lot of research into possible mechanisms for the failures that I found and and how to avoid that.

I'm gonna be talking to Dr. [00:34:00] Spiva at great length and find out, if he ran into those sorts of things when they were using these methods. I'm sure they did. But like I said, a lot of. The commercial bumblebee rearing operations hold their techniques close to their chest.

And one of the things that I did find out through this one study. Authored by Robin Owen is called Rearing Bumblebees for Research and Profit. Practical and Ethical Considerations is that a lot of these most of these commercial bumblebee producers have quite high disease levels in the 70 plus percent infestation rates.

Their bees are not healthy. They are infested with various things. The foreign wing virus is one of them. No Noma Bombas. Bombi, excuse me, is a form of Noma that infest them. So when they are imported in, into air different areas for commercial use, like in tomato, greenhouse pollination, they're [00:35:00] bringing disease bees in and quite often they're bombas terraces or non-natives.

And. And they are gonna be affect the local populations if they escape. And they, and part of the study was actually looking outside of these commercial operations where these had been brought in. They had found. Mature bees out on forage outside of the greenhouse. They know that they're escaping.

So anyway, those are considerations in all of this. Just a lot. And I imagine

Andony Melathopoulos: with that industry as well, it's, they also have run into the problems that you, this is doing this. Semi artificially has all of these places where things should go

Steve Gomes: wrong. Yes. And, and in the end there, there's something about a creature reproducing in its natural and environment that you can't match.

I just pulled a a log out of one of my mentees yards that had a, a feral honeybee. Nest in it. I split it down the sides. But anyway I'm gonna repopulate that log with a nest and let them draw out comb and [00:36:00] so it can be opened up so people can actually see the kind of environment that, that honeybees would inhabit on their own without any human intervention.

And I believe the same thing with bumblebees is that. If we provide the right nectar and pollen resources for them early in the season, I think that's one of the problems in the rural areas. There's so much edge and hedge rows that are gone now. We don't have the habitat, that little bit of habitat out there that they need and the resources on it to be able to make it and produce a nest.

And that's, I think that's one of the neat things about the B project is this is, a lot of this has been brought to light. And to see some changes take place and see those populations rebound, it is gonna be a good thing. It'll be good thing for the agricultural practices and the land use practices and and just to change in the way we think about things.

Andony Melathopoulos: Steve, I wish you luck. I am. I am learning so much from your experiments, and I really love this about the volunteers [00:37:00] and both the Master Tologist, the master beekeeping program that you are you ha you it is very cooperative and gregarious and people share ideas and I'm learning a lot from your experiments.

They've been

Steve Gomes: wonderful. Thanks for coming. Coming to Oregon and and getting us all stirred up about pollinators. It's been, oh, that was years ago, man. I'm yeah. Hearing now. Look what you've done to us. Good thing. Good thing. So thank you. Thank you for

Andony Melathopoulos: taking the time with us today.

Alright. Thank you so much for listening. Show notes with links from each episode are available at the website pollination podcast dot Oregon state.edu. I also love hearing from you, and there's a form at the website where you can pop in and say hello and give me feedback. If you wanna support the show, remember to leave a rating on iTunes, Spotify, or whatever podcast mothership you use.

And finally, if you have the means and you want to help support my Lab's effort to document B Biodiversity [00:38:00]Oregon visit. Oregon be atlas.org and follow down to the donate button where you can make a tax deductible donation to the Jerry and Judith Paul native pollinator endowment. Every little bit helps.

See you next episode.

Bumble bees nest in the darndest places - like bird houses and water meters. In this episode we learn about how to relocate bumble bee colonies. We also figure out how to get bumble bee nests where you want them, by rearing colonies from queens that emerge in the spring.

¿Fue útil esta página?

Contenido relacionado de El servicio de Extensión

¿Tienes una pregunta? Pregúntale a Extensión

“Pregúntale a Extensión” es una forma de obtener respuestas del Servicio de Extensión de Oregon State University. Contamos con expertos en familia y salud, desarrollo comunitario, alimentación y agricultura, temas costeros, silvicultura, programas para jóvenes y jardinería.