Bees keep cool in summer heat

8 June 2016

Summer’s here and it’s even too hot for the bees in the afternoon sunshine.

As temperatures soared this week a group of tree bumblebees were spotted fanning their nest with their wings.

The bees are nesting in a birdbox on the side of The Barn, headquarters of The Lancashire Wildlife Trust, in Cuerden Valley Park, Bamber Bridge.

A group of about 20 were spotted sitting outside the hole on the box fanning air into the box with their wings.

Wildlife Trust Communications Officer Alan Wright said: “It is an amazing sight with all these beautiful orange and black bees massed together, wings aloft.

“We thought it was hot in our office but it must be really toasty in the birdbox. Hopefully the bees will be OK and we are excited that they decided to choose our birdbox for a nest.”

The bees are tree bumblebees which arrived in the UK from France about 10 years ago and which have been slowly moving north.

According to the Natural History Museum’s Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) the newcomers don’t appear to be causing damage to our native bee populations and they are an effective pollinator. As other bee species have declined in the UK this is good news.

You can tell tree bumblebees from the bright orange on their shoulders, with black bodies and white tails.

It is not strange to see tree bumblebees in gardens, they go for wide-open flowers like daisies, tending to ignore tubular plants like foxgloves. These bees nest in holes in trees, hence the confusion with bird boxes.

Alan said: “Tree bumblebees are becoming more common in gardens and tend to ignore humans and just get on with their lives. If you don’t get too close they won’t bother you and they are fascinating to watch because they are really busy.

“This is just one of the many wildlife spectacles that we get in this country, we are seeing a lot of this on Springwatch at the moment.”

While the weather remains warm it is important to remember wildlife and how it is coping. Alan said: “It’s particularly important at this time of year, when birds are feeding their young to ensure that you have food and water on your bird tables. It will keep our lovely wildlife coming into your gardens.”

Watch the video of the bees fanning on the Lancashire Wildlife Trust Facebook page –

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