The tree bumblebee

For the past few days I’ve been watching bees take it in turn going in and out of a cavity wall underneath a window sill (plastic type) on our old cottage. The photos were taken with flash and are not fantastic by any means but I was pleased with what I got. The bees were fascinating – queuing up to get in. The other side of the wall is the bedroom but neither me nor OH have been able to hear anything from that side, fortunately!

I identified the type as B. hypnorum, the Tree Bumblebee – quite a coincidence as this bee has been mentioned several times recently on the site. I wanted confirmation and sent the pics to the Lincolnshire Bee, Ant and Wasp recorder.

Bombus hypnorum

This is what he wrote:

Yes, they are Bombus hypnorum, the Tree Bee. They build their nests in abandoned bird nests and got their misleading English name from an early observation of their nesting in old bird nests in tree cavities. Unlike most bumblebees which fly straight into and straight out of their nests, making them usually difficult to find, B. hypnorum workers hover about outside and make their presence known. They have the reputation of being the most aggressive of our bumblebees, so don’t expect any builders to work anywhere near them and best tell your window cleaner as well. The nest will be active for about 6 – 8 weeks.

Who goes first?


Two bees in a queue


It’s my turn


One bee

Oh, dear…

Jane’s been spotted

And I now know not to clean the windows until about the end of July! At that point, I buzzed off myself!

11 Responses

  1. gertie says:

    Wow … well spotted Jane :-) :good: It’s a good job that the one I rescued was in a state of torpor at the time then :lol:
    What a terrific excuse to leave the windows too :lol: :rose:
    Especially love that last pic :excruciating: :-) :rose:

  2. Thanks you, Anne :-) And you can see by the cobwebs that I’m not hot on housework in general :lol:

  3. VegVamp says:

    How brilliant Jane, and fascinating to get the confirmation and extra info from the recorder. If I had know they were the most aggressive bee I might not have been following them as closely round the trees to get photos! :lol: They are a very handsome bee; I love their ginger thorax. Thank you for a great read and pics. :cool:

    • Thanks, Karen and isn’t it brilliant that several of us are seeing them – and now learning to view them at a distance :nailbiting: I love how they got their name :good:

      • VegVamp says:

        I wouldn’t know a quarter of it without you checking things out and yes, lovely to compare notes on sightings, that makes it even better. :good: I wonder if that what was doing all the angry buzzing in Cilla’s hog house. :lol: Gawd, she picked the straw up! :confused: Brave girl that Cilla one. :-)

  4. cilla says:

    Unfortunately I can’t see the pics on this device so will google the bee. I don’t know if mine are tree bumbles as the only one I saw flying out was very fast. I haven’t seen any workers buzzing about outside the box but I’m not often that side of the greenhouse so I shall spare some time to observe. That is the best excuse yet for not cleaning windows Jane :lol: :lol: :lol:

  5. cilla says:

    I’ve just read about these Jane, and it certainly sounds as if that is what mine are.

  6. An update on the tree bumblebee:
    Today is the first day of no sign whatsoever of them. It’s probably 8 weeks since I first saw them and that ties in with what the recorder said.

  7. cilla says:

    Oh no, you’ll have to clean the windows!!! :lol:

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