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Old 04-01-2019, 08:08 PM   #1
A Bee's Best Friend
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Chicago Illinois USA
Default Resting queen bumble bees in the leaf litter in spring

Another good reason to let the leaf litter stay on the ground. Garden corridors and nature preserves and urban parks help these queens move over greater distances to find a place with adequate food sources and less competition. Careful not to step on her majesty as you stroll about looking for signs of spring.


It was long thought that queen bumblebees, after hibernating in the ground over winter, emerged, began feeding and dispersed quite quickly to found their new colony.
But new research shows that directly after hibernation, queen bumblebees spend the majority of their time hiding and resting amongst dead leaves and grass.

The data showed that the queens were spending most of their time on the ground (between 10-20 minutes on average) and making short flights (10-20 seconds on average) in nearly random directions. Observations of wild queen bumblebees verified this was not due to the antennas but rather natural behaviour of recently emerged queens. Computer modelling also showed that this behaviour can explain how bees end up many kilometres from the hibernation spots.
Dr Joe Woodgate, a co-lead author of the study from Queen Mary University of London, said: "Our study suggests that a few weeks of this type of behaviour would carry queen bees several kilometers away from their hibernation site and might explain how queens disperse from the nest in which they were born to the place they choose to found a new colony."
"Half Earth Quest" Edward O. Wilson

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Old 04-02-2019, 04:22 PM   #2
Great Horned Owl
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Join Date: May 2010
Location: Northeastern MA

Another excellent reason to put off raking leaves, or raking leaves at all! I've found so many critters in leaf litter, it's always containing an entire ecosystem that can include salamanders, toads, frogs when near water, snakes , centipedes and millipedes, etc.

Of course, I doubt if many of us on this site are leaf rakers from under shrubs or around the base of trees, but I know so many who rake the leaves up, purchase bark mulch, and throw out the leaves and replace it with bark.

Lesson learned repeatedly here is that for anyone truly interested in the wildlife attracted to their property, the first rule is not to rake up leaves, the most natural habitat of the very critters who make up or will attract the animals we garden for...
"Know thyself."

Oracle at Delphi
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Old 04-08-2019, 07:49 PM   #3
Curious George & UAOKA recipient
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Chapel Hill, NC

I was watching a large bumblebee in the leaf litter in my perennial garden today. I couldn’t figure out exactly what she was doing. Thanks for the article Gloria!
There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, this is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar. - Lord Byron

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Old 04-09-2019, 09:09 AM   #4
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Join Date: May 2012
Location: Alexandria, VA

Wow! That makes me feel so much better about the messiness in my yard. I usually just run my mower over most of the leaves in my yard to mulch them, and I leave the rest as is in my flower beds. I knew this helped insects, but this is even further proof. I've already seen several bumble bee queens in my yard.
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bees, bumble, leaf, litter, queen, resting, spring

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