Every year, we hear about lots of weird and wonderful places that birds have decided to nest, but birds aren't the only creatures that pick what can seem odd places to build a home.
Last week, while staring out of my window at work (again!) I realised that some sort of wasp was paying particular interest in part of the window frame - going in and out of a hole carrying something.
It was fascinating stuff to watch, and only when the wasp misjudged the hole and spilt what she was carrying on the window sill could I see that it was in fact a little clump of sand.
And how do I know it was a female? Well, after several failed attempts to get a photo, I finally managed to snap a few, and track her down as the nattily named Ancistrocerus parietum, or (easier to say and remember!) as being part of the potter wasp family.
It turns out that it is the female who searches for the nest site, builds the nest and brings in food for her young - namely tasty larvae that she seals in with her eggs so that her young have something to nibble on as they grow!
And true to this description, this week, she has been carrying green caterpillars - as big as her body - into the nest.
I think it is totally amazing that this wasp not only has the ability to find the caterpillars, but that she also flies back to the nest with them. Surely, this is a feat up there with the weight that ants can carry.
I've got a new respect for these creatures, and it just goes to show that sometimes you don't have to go far to see things that are new and amazing.
I'd love to know if any of you have found nests in unusual places. Please leave me a comment below.
And, if you're interested in getting closer to your garden wildlife, if you join the RSPB before 12 July the joining gift is the RSPB Garden Handbook - perfect the next time you see something a little out of the ordinary!
i built a blue tit box when i was 12 (this was 25 years ago)and it was used every year, but one, until it fell to bits last year.
the 1 year it wasn't used by blue tits, a solitary bee nabbed it first. it built a beautiful 1 inch diamond shaped paper nest inside with about 12 "rooms" for larvae. sadly, i never saw this marvel as my dad didn't think to keep it. he just described it on the phone.
I have seen bees going in and out of our hedge to an old birds' nest and also every Spring, we have honey type bees going in and out of a crack in the concrete drive in front of the garage. Can anyone tell me which species of bees these might be?
Last year we had a wasp nest in one of our blue tit boxes at the top of our garden
Inside an airbrick under our sitting-room floor. She spent several days carrying in building materials and then we spent several weeks protecting her nest from well-meaning waspkillers!
I have had a wasp type insect fill in the recesses where the screws join the two halves of of my hose pipe reel. I presume it has laid an egg/eggs in there then plugged the holes with soil/sand. I dont know what type of wasp it is. How do I send a picture?
A wasp - not the common bright yellow and black jobs - has built a nest in a cage we use to display garden ornaments. The nest is a bit bigger than a golf ball, greyish in colour, attached to the cage roof and with a hole at its base. The wasp is fairly small, mainly black with narrow yellow stripes. Possibly a potter wasp?
Four years ago I had a wasps' nest up my [unused] bedroom chimney.The first i knew of it was when I awoke to find a wasp walking over my arm and the bedroom window with rather a large number trying to get out.The only inconvenience to me was the impossibility of reading in bed after dark as the wasps were attracted to the bedside light.The wasps went out from July till November but never appeared to come in through the open windows.In spite of my non-interference a lot of them died around the bedroom -I wondered if the chimney was blocked by a soot fall and they were poisoned.They were certainly docile .Two years ago the nest fell down the chimney :it was about a foot deep and beautifully made.
Thanks for all your comments - some really interesting stuff. Do keep them coming.
BooPeep - Afraid I'm no expert on bees, so unless another member of the forum knows the answer, I guess you'll just have to keep an eye on the nest and report back! :)
I have bumblebees, not properly identified yet, nesting in a hole where the waste pipe from the kitchen sink comes out of the wall. They are very busy, back and forward to the garden, they seem to like the philadelphus. We had some fence panels delivered and they were leant up against the wall overlapping the nest entrance - the poor bumblebees couldn't work out how to go behind the panels, so they had to be moved!
We too have slow worms - I have built a new compost bin and was moving the old heap across, and came across 7 in one afternoon. I carefully transferred them to the new bin. The next day there were two that looked like a pair, in the old heap, so I have left it for a while before I move the rest over.
We are lucky enough to have mason bees back in our garden this year. They have moved into our ladybird box again that we purchased from the RSPB. The bees cut round disc shapes from leaves and plug up the entrance to the holes. We were informed last time by someone at the RSPB to take the box in over the winter months and put it back out in March, and sure enough the bees all flew off safely in the Spring. We managed to get some great photographs of them and their sealed up home.
Another welcome visitor to our garden this year has been a slow worm.
Years ago swallows made a nest in the garage, it was abandoned for several years until a wren took it over for several seasons adding moss to make it suitable. This year it has been taken over by small black bees, I'm not sure what kind, but they are very busy, amazing what nature makes use of.
I dumped a pile of moss raked out of the lawn back in the Spring, this morning I lifted some off the top of the pile thinking to move it all. But to my amazement there was a colony of small bumble bees, lovely young ones crawling around. So I quickly re-instated their mossy home.
I have a bee that drilled a hole in the door frame of my office door - I watched it chewing round and round as it made the perfect round hole. Then it disappeared inside and sealed the hole up. Next day the hole was open and I could see the white egg (grub) just inside and while I watched the bee came back and sealed the hole up again. Its been sealed now for a couple of weeks - when is the young larva or baby bee going to emerge or will the parent have to come and unseal the hole again?
I have noticed these wasps building their nests in the screw holes in our electric switches and even in the electric socket holes making them completely 'out of bounds' temporarily. These are strange places to build a nests indeed !
We have a load of bees that have swarmed during the last week and have now taken over the Blue tits little nesting box.
In our garden at the moment it sounds like the Vuvuzelas in a world cup football match. As they spend most of their time in and on all the flowers :)
I am wondering will they try to make it a permanent home,
or will they move on again to find a larger des res.