Hello, this is my first posting on here, so I hope the following will prove of interest;-
Our garden in Hastings is long, thin & sloping, so we've gradually worked our way down the slope creating ponds, flat areas, beds & banks. We're fortunate to be host to common frogs & toads, smooth & palmate newts, slow-worms, grass snakes & adders.
We adjoin the countryside at the back, with a natural, if tiny, stream as our boundary, & are also visited by many interesting & varied birds, which have included kestrels, kingfishers, ring ouzels & moorhens. Large numbers of insects are also present, & we're particularly fond of bees;- Mason bees have regularly nested in a hole through our kitchen window-frame, once occupied by a cable, & during this time we regularly have to open the door to 'let the bee out'..
This spring, we noticed a queen bumble-bee start to excavate a small hole in the pond embankment adjacent to a seating area, which my wife has developed as a rockery. Some weeks later, we watched the first workers emerge, & begin ferrying a constant stream of goodies back to the nest. It was also fascinating to see them alter the size, shape & position of their entrance hole, seemingly in response to changes in the weather, as they always made it smaller just before heavy rain..
About a month ago, we found the area partially devastated, with the entrance gone, & a large void excavated under the rock where it had been. At this time, we saw bees flying off carrying larvae, but I wedged an earthenware flowerpot in the void, & the bees, though initially confused, continued to come & go. A few days later, utter carnage was wrought, as having failed in a frontal attack, our resident badgers had attempted to gain entry from above; This time, there was soil strewn everywhere, peppered with dead bees, & part of the nest chamber, some 18 inches back from the original entrance, had been exposed. ( We were amazed at the amount of tunneling & soil moving they had managed..)The bees seemed extremely angry, but we placed a concrete block over the exposed chamber, trapping a piece of stainless steel mesh-weld under it, & further reinforcing this with bits of steel tube pushed into the ground around & through this, with a broken propagator top over it all to throw off rain.
A few nights ago, I heard noises, investigated,& was obliged to shoo off two badgers who were engaged on making another attempt, then had to wedge a brick into the resulting void, followed by more bits of steel tube. This time I had to avoid many bees which were on the ground, & somewhat disoriented to be out in the dark. So far, the resulting fortifications seem to have done the trick, & the bees continue to come & go, though my poor wife's carefully constructed rockery is now a complete disaster area!
We would really like to examine the structure of the nest, once the bees have finished with it, so please can anyone advise me whether it's likely to be used for hibernation in the winter, or if we'd be safe to have a look inside once winter arrives?
These bees have almost become 'pets', so we don't want to do anything which would be detrimental to them, but at the same time, we'd like to be able to repair & replant this area at some point in the future..
Hi from me, Chris, and a warm welcome. I can't offer any advice on this but your post is so interesting I'd love to hear more - I'm sure others will agree and be able to help.
Hi Chris welcome to the forum from Sheffield.
What a great place it sounds like you have there (any photos?).
I think i've been told on the forum before that the Queen will overwinter there then move on at the beggining of the year to find a new nest..but then again i could have dreamed it (some on here have wierd dreams).
Someone will be along to help you better, hope to hear more from you.
Your garden sounds like a wildlife paradise and your account is a most interesting one. Nice to have badgers in the garden but they have their downsides too.
I'm afraid I can't answer your question about the bumblebee's nest but there are many knowledgeable people on this forum who may be able to offer advice.
I wonder if you've thought about contacting one of the specialist bee organizations. I found the Bumblebee Conservation Trust by a quick Google search. Might be worth contacting them.
Hiya what a lovely read. I don't know anything about bees but this site maybe of use http://www.bwars.com/
With regards to badgers you could try a distraction thing and put food out in a part of the garden away from the nest. Brown bread peanut butter sandwiches soaked in water are my badgers favourite along with fruit (fresh or dried) and unsalted nuts. The lady 2 doors down from me puts raw steak out for them. My garden has never been dug up but it could be that my badger visitors are just too lazy to forage for worms etc in the soil!!!
Welcome to the forum and I look forward to reading more of your posts and seeing some pictures of what sounds like an oasis for wildlife!!!
Thanks for the friendly welcome everybody;
- Well, things did not go well last night, & I fear I'll now never see the natural structure of the nest, as the badgers penetrated my defences once again, digging under the concrete block & removing about 2 cubic feet of soil. This afternoon there were around two hundred angry-sounding bees still defending this gaping orifice, but feeling I had to do something, I thrust a largish plastic flowerpot, open end first into the hole, whence numerous aggressive workers emerged from the drainage holes.
Stepping back for a moment while they calmed down, I then pushed in a couple of steel tubes, followed by some bricks, more tubes, some rigid plastic, more tubes, then some of the spoil removed by the badgers. It was necessary to step back several times to avoid some very intense & confrontational bees, so having made the beginning of a repair, I decided to return after dark to do some backfilling. Even this approach had a few bees turning out to defend what was left of their nest, so having replaced a proportion of the spoil, I retired for the evening, hoping the I'd done enough to facilitate further repairs by the bees themselves.
I have some garden pictures on photobucket, ;-
Bee nest is located just to the right, below the canes..
Looking down the slope;- there's another 100 feet or so behind the elderberry tree..
One of our locals...
Slow-worms like to rest under strategically-placed carpet tiles..
Clematis in our oak tree...
Around one of the ponds..
Feeding time in one of two non-nature ponds..
Hope these prove of interest.
That looks one brilliant place Chris thanks for posting the photos, loved seeing the Slow Worms
What a lovely wild life friendly garden you have
Ref the bees. The bees will die off in the winter,queens will have left to hibernate and start fresh next spring so doubtfull you will have a nest in the same place next spring.
I think maybe you are going too far with steel tubes etc as these can warm up in hot weather. Far better to let the bees repair themselves. The bees will see you as a threat. The badgers will probably keep coming back for the grubs etc so as daisydotty suggests put alternative food out.
Really late posting in this thread but what an interesting read. I agree with Barnsley Lad that your queen is unlikely to over-winter. The way I understand it, is she'll die off and the new ones will go elsewhere (probably somewhere else in your garden as it looks absolutely perfect for nesting). They don't tend to return to the same nesting site as far as I know.
I'd also be really interested in any close-up photographs of the nest if you ever get round to it once they're vacated and I'd also strongly second the recommendation to peruse the Bumblebee Conservation Trust website as they are particularly interested in hearing from people who've had success with nesting. If you get any more, definitely let them know as they'll want to know what you've got that's working as they're notoriously difficult to pin down in terms of nesting likes and dislikes.
I'd agree too on putting something else out for the badgers or maybe just somehow barricading them altogether if that's at all possible. I know it's interfering but then a little careful balancing should probably take care of all their needs. Gosh, nature - it's a never-ending drama. Thanks so much for the photos. Very, very interesting thread.
if a badger wants in they will get in!!!! they will dig under and climb over if need be.
we had badgers in our garden and we stoped them comeing in naw they go over the golfcorse next to us so i can still see them ,there no more in our garden .