wingdesigner
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Convincing bumblebees to move?

My favourite seamstress has informed me that bumblebees have set up camp just outside her front door, between the house and heirloom lilac bush. She is mildly allergic to bee stings, so between that and the location, she would like to either convince them to move or get rid of them without killing the lilac in the process. I know nothing about bumbles--are they solitary or colony-dwellers? Do they have a queen? Drowning them is not an option as it is right next to the foundation and water would enter the basement. Any suggestions I can pass along?

Thanks in advance.
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MaineDesigner
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This sort of thing really annoys me. What kind of crazy world is this where the first reaction to fear is to kill the thing you are afraid of no matter how irrational the fear? I have many hundreds, if not thousands, of hours working in close (sometimes just three or four inches) proximity of bumblebees and I have never been stung by one. I have, however, been stung or bitten by a litany of other insects, arachnids and myriapods. In my experience bumblebees are extremely non-aggressive.

As to the biology, at least in northern climates only the queen survives the winter. She creates a new nest (ground cavities, often old mouse/vole burrows) every year and starts a new generation of progeny. They will stay together in this colony until late summer when any new queens will fly off to hibernate and then start a new colony.

If you locate the entrance to the nest and don't intrude on the immediate (a few feet IME) area the bees should not have any cause to sting. Doesn't the house have another entrance or is the seamstress just to lazy to use it? I know several people who are really allergic to stings (not just "mildly"). They carry an EpiPen and go on about their gardening business worrying mainly about late summer yellow jacket and bald-faced hornet attacks (they are far more aggressive and unpredictable than bees).

Save the benign and non-aggressive bee or start down the road of killing everything that is inconvenient and has some minute potential to harm you.

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rainbowgardener
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Agree with MaineDesigner. I had to look it up to find out if bumblebees sting... I never heard of anyone actually being stung by one. They are always around me when I am working in the garden. They are valuable pollinators.

Unfortunately, I can't think of anyway to move the bees with out harming them. If you watch in the morning when they are coming out of the nest, you will see where it is, so you can avoid it.

"Towards late summer, the queen will start to produce drones and young queens. The young queens are fertilized by the drones, then fly off to hibernate. Hibernation usually takes place in dry protected areas such as loose bark. The colony's remaining drones and workers stay in the colony and die during the winter season. The young queens start new colonies in the spring of the year. As mentioned above, bumble bees do not use the same nest though they may nest in an area close by to the original bee nest."

https://www.pestproducts.com/bumble-bees.htm#chemical-free

That means next year the nest will be in a different location.

The above article also says

"A suitable place for nesting is usually on the ground, beneath a flat object. An old mouse hole or similar hole in the ground is preferred if it is underneath an old tarp, flat stone or man made objects such as a deck."

So when doing fall clean up if you remove areas like that, fill in underground holes, the nest will be less likely to be where you don't want it.
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There was a nest on my patio last year. I would watch them crawl in between the bricks and the bottom course of the siding. They were right next to the patio table, but they never bothered us.

We were in more fear of and annoyed by a carpenter bee that must have made a nest nearby (I never did find it) because in defending HER nest, she kept buzzing at the bumble bees and at us. They don't sting either, but they scare the kids and are simply ANNOYING (it's bad when you start yelling at them to get out of your face... :wink:)

BTW - I'm still not seeing very many bees this spring, though the peachs, apricots, and the apples have been pollinated so someone's taking care of the job....

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I shall add my disapproval to the idea of killing these majestic native pollinators.

There are so many great variations on the bumblebee, including the cuckold variety (they take over another queen's nest), and one nasty one that cuts the flower open and steals nectar without pollinating.


these animals are vitally important to the health of our ecosystem.
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Kisal
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I have never been stung, buzzed, chased, or bothered in any way by a bumblebee. Sometimes, when I'm gathering flowers, the bumblebees are working right alongside me. Even if I cut the flower a bee is gathering nectar from, it just flies to another flower. Why should we destroy them? :(
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Alan in Vermont
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OK,, just to make sure we're on the same page. What I know as a "Bumblebee" is about an inch or a bit more in length. Yellow and black stripes around a rotund, fuzzy body, very loud BUZZING sound when flying. NASTY little beastie often found in cavities in barn walls or un-mowed tufts of grass along the perimeter of hayfields. Stinger about the size of a rock drill.

Does that describe that good neighbor of a bee who minds his/her own business or is your bumblebee a different breed?

One thing I noticed with the replies is that NOT ONE addressed the question posed by the OP. Instead I see a bunch of holier than thou pontificating about how terrible it is to destroy a nest of bees.

Nothing like a nice dose of "Think like I do or you're wrong!"

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gixxerific
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Alen it seems to me that everyone addressed the question. Don't kill them. Sounds like an answer to me. There were even informative links on the habit of bumblebees.

If you don't know they are the big fat cigar butt sized ones that never bother anyone, at least not me. As someone said maybe use another door, the lazy comment may have been off track but.........

We need the bees and butterfly's and all the other pollinators of the world if we start killing them because they are a nuisance than the world will go to EDITED - PLEASE REPORT THIS POST very fast.

My holier than thou statement. :)

Other than that I say stay away they are to important to kill.

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It's hard to know what we are all talking about as a "bumblebee"; according to Wiki, there are approx. 250 species of them:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bumblebee

But, speaking as someone who is allergic both to bees *and* to the benzo alcohol family of chemical preservatives (yes, my face and sinuses swelled up after an injection of Benadryl b/c the preservative wasn't on the injection's label; I was lucky to have had such a limited reaction), carrying an EpiPen is out of the question for me:

--If I am stung by a bee / wasp / hornet / yellow jacket / etc., I will have an anaphylactic reaction.

--If the injection in 2002 had been of anything other than straight-out Benadryl (we were using it as a local anesthetic to biopsy a growth on my face), my dermatologist would have had an anaphylactic patient on her hands with *no way of knowing* why I had reacted: the preservative wasn't on the label! :shock:

And, yes, I *have had* such a reaction more than once to injections. The only element in common was the preservative, and it's the most common one.

So no EpiPen for me, either.

The bumblebees I've read about are ground-dwellers.

If I discovered a nest of bumblebees close to my back door--which is how DH, dogs, and I enter and leave the house and get to the carport--I would have to block the nest. First, though, I would wait until evening and try to create a similar set-up to lure the bumbles away from the door through attraction. I would give it a few days. But then, unfortunately, I would have to protect my own life and block the nest if it were still occupied.

Fortunately, the only bumblebee nest I've found here so far has been near the "back" fence. The back fence is 20 or so feet from the back door, and the bees' flight paths don't bring them near the door, so all of us are safe for the time being.

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OK I thought of this as we were leaving for the ball game -- alas Phillies lost most resoundingly to the Mets... :x

I have a can of Poison Free (that's the brand name) Wasp and Hornet Killer. Primary active ingredient is Mint oil, and it says it's a natural neurotoxin. So maybe plant some mint around the area? They (as in wasps and bees) do like -- no LOVE -- the flowers, but your friend can cut the flowers before they bloom.

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Which area does your friend, the seamstress, live? I can understand needing to "remove" the bees due to an allergy, as even mild allergies can be very serious in the wrong conditions, but as I understand it bumble bees and honey bees have seen an incredible decrease in numbers recently. If we can protect the pollinators then we should, in the interest of all that is natural.

Perhaps it may be possible to contact a local bee keeper and see if they can remove the hive, complete with residents, out of her yard. When we looked this up before there ended up being one or two bee keepers in the other person's area that offered safe, non-violent removal of any stinging insects.

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Sorry Alan, didn't mean to sound judgmental or whatever... it's just that lots of people care passionately about issues like this. We are worried about the disappearance of bees and many of us are working hard to provide habitat, growing flowers specially because bees like them etc, so we probably get a little sensitive...


I did address the original question the best I could : "Unfortunately, I can't think of anyway to move the bees with out harming them. ... " etc, including how to prevent the problem next year.

Gixx is right there are a bunch of different ones. I have several kinds around my place, in different sizes that I tend (perhaps mistakenly) to call bumblebees, plus the carpenter/mason bees.

https://www.everythingabout.net/articles/biology/animals/arthropods/insects/bees/bumble_bee/

they are large and hairy, mine are mostly dark with just a bit of yellow. They buzz, but not real loud. And don't have any obvious stinger. I don't know what you mean by calling it NASTY except that it yours has the stinger. It may well be a different variety than we have. But you really didn't say, does your variety not mind it's own business? Besides being well armed, is it aggressive?
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I may be mistaken, but I think you can tell a bumblebee from its first flight of the day.

Their wings don't work cold, so before taking off they have to warm them up.


also interesting - physics has never said bumblebees can't fly. That was a dinner joke that became a myth.
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I have been stung many times by bumble bees.they will chase you down and unlike honey bees bumble bees can sting many times.Thing is, I got stung when I was a stupid teenager and all the kids in the neighborhood thought it was fun to stir up their nest and watch them swarm.Now that I'm a stupid adult I know to leave the nests alone.Bumblebees will not bother you if you don't bother their nest.With the scarcity of honey bees we really need to keep the bumblebees.
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OK -- Kids alerted me to a small ground bee that appears to have made a nest in the crack between the brick mortar and the front door threshold. If it was off to the side, I'd let it stay, but where it is now, the bee(s) could come in the house while the storm/screen door is being held open.

Following up on the suggestion I'd made above, I tried dripping Peppermint essential oil on the bricks around the entrance. We've watched the bee hovering over the area then leaving several times. It went in once but came out right away. I've temporarily laid a long dandelion flower stalk across the crack, which seems to further deter the bee. FWIW. :D

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Alan in Vermont
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rkunsaw wrote:I have been stung many times by bumble bees.they will chase you down and unlike honey bees bumble bees can sting many times. Bumblebees will not bother you if you don't bother their nest.With the scarcity of honey bees we really need to keep the bumblebees.
Now THAT sounds like the BBs I know and abhor. I have abandoned vehicles, farm equipment and patches of ground to them. They're fine in the garden as they are vigorous enough to cover a lot of flowers in a day.

OTOH, it takes very little to get their blood up and I have too many memories of dealing with mean bahstuds to cut them any slack around my buildings.

Some of my memories of them involve one of our hay barns. It had studded walls rather than post & beam construction. Some parts of it were boarded on the inside with tonue & groove lumber with a lot of the knots fallen out after many years of drying. The BBs would nest in those cavities, not a big deal until you started putting hay in the barn. The bales dropping off the conveyor onto the mow floor would cause enough vibration to rouse the bees. If we found the hole we could go in at night and (hastily) nail a board over the hole. We found that an old badminton racquet worked great in an anti-aircraft mode. As there were always several guys working to stack the hay the one with the best aim ran air cover for the rest of us.

Out in the fields they would nest in any wad of hay that was not picked up. The next year you would hit the nests while mowing making for some exciting times. We used to run two tractors when cutting hay, one with the mowing machine and the other following close behind with a hay conditioner (crushes the hay stems to help it dry faster). I was on the conditioner and right tight behind the mower one day when the mower disturbed a nest. They hadn't gotten over the initial upset and I spotted a churning mass of black/yellow hurt in time to roll it into the ground with the rear tractor tire.

So yeah, if you can work aroung them they are tolerable but once you cross their threshold of hate they will pursue you far longer than you can run. I will avoid them if I can but if it gets down to killing bees or getting stung the bees are going to lose the battle.

Unfortunately I have never heard of any way to relocate a nest. Sad as it may be the only recourse for BBs impinging on space we need to occupy seems to be just one step short of global thermonuclear war.

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>>nesting in a studded barn

see, that's the problem.

"bumble bees" nest in the ground or in grass clumps. it would be very unusual for them to nest in a structure - of any kind.

no doubt you've been chased by something you identified as a bee, but most probably not a bumble bee - and if the bad tempered dudes had segmented bodies, not a bee at all.

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Thank you for all your input. Yes, the hole is right next to the door and they could fly in the house. I have forwarded her edited versions of your comments, so that she has some background info as well. Some of the preventative measures I might try myself.

Thanks again.
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Re: Convincing bumblebees to move?

Ok, there is an opening between my house foundation and the sidewalk.. and i've noticed bumblebee's going down into the opening during the day. Obviously, there is a honeycomb developing. The bee's are entering the opening with sacs on their legs. I'm not afraid of them, i know if i leave them alone, they'll leave me alone. I also found out that they die out and move on in the winter. (especially here in western Canada with our cold, snowy winters) What i want to know is exactly when i can seal up the crack (opening). I guess i can watch to see if there is any more activity, but otherwise, when can i take care of this. I need to do it before the snow falls in November(ish).. but i also do NOT want to seal any bee's in there because i heard they can find another way out if they are trapped and i live in a bsmt suite.. last thing i want is to find bee's buzzing around my cupboards, etc.
Help please :) Thx

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Re: Convincing bumblebees to move?

Are you sure you have bumble bees? What do they look like? Here the big black or golden bees are often called bumble bees but they really are carpenter bees. They do like to nest in unpainted wood.

The solution is actually to fill the holes around the foundation and paint the wood.

I understand, when people are allergic to bees, a bee sting can be life threatening and reason for concern.

If there is an extension agent in the area, maybe they may have resources to find bee keepers in the area who might be able to identify the bees and suggest ways to lure them away as an alternative to killing them.

We actually have put up artificial hives for the carpenter and leaf cutter bees in the trees to encourage them to nest there instead of in the building. The apiary is in the orchard.

I work around bees all of the time. We don't have Africanized bees here so the bees here are more interested in going about their business collecting nectar and pollen from the flowers than stinging anyone.

If you pay attention, most bees will give a warning buzz if you get too close to them. The last time I got stung was when I did not see a bee on my pick and when I grabbed the pick, I grabbed the bee and it stung me.

Bees work primarily after the sun comes up and the morning is starting to warm up and again in the early evening when it cools down. I have learned to do most of my gardening around their work schedule. If I have to do something when they are foraging, I just use a gentle sprinkle of water to nudge them out of the way.
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Re: Convincing bumblebees to move?

Snowbird - it would really help if you could get a picture of your bee(s). If not that then at least the best description you can with size and details.

Bumblebees make honey but only in very small amounts and they don't store it. Thus, I don't believe they make honeycomb. But they do sometimes make a waxy canopy over the top of their nest for protection.

It is still not clear what kind of bee you have, which might make a difference in how you deal with it.
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