Posted: 29/05/2013 at 09:10
Personally experience pooled together is as good as it gets Jennifer!
I had a dramatic encounter with my first bee nest a couple of years back when a Queen made her nest in an unused border where I had piled a load of leaves.
I remember her surveying the spot one sunny February day but thought nothing more about it until I cleared the pile of leaves.
I left the nest alone assuming it was a solitary but then I saw three or more and so I read that solitary bees can share the same hole, so I thought aw that's nice, but soon enough there was a stream of bees back and forth and we realised it was a proper nest.
The drama occurred over a period of time when a presumed fox raided the nest twice (the bees rebuilt it) and on another occasion we found a great disturbance at the nest and the queen crawling away wingless. She had obviously been usurped and not too many weeks after that the nest died out, so we can only assume that the cuckoo bee took over by pretending to be a worker for a few days before it attacks the queen. It then lays its own eggs which are treated to the best care by the nest but unfortunately Cuckoo bees don't collect pollen so the nest has a lifespan of 40 days tops, when all the original bees die off and there is no-one left in attendance.
We dug the nest up at the end of the year and discovered a grapefruit sized knitted construction of mostly fluff and debris that puts China's dense population issues to shame!
The queen is dead, long live the Queen!