A video mini-documentary about Bombus Hypnorum, the Tree Bumble Bee. Learn about a gorgeous and relatively new Bumble bees Species in the UK. Tree Bumble Bees, originally from continental Europe, have reached Scotland.
Introduction to the Tree Bumble Bees – Bombus Hypnorum.
A Tree Bumble Bee Queen (Bombus Hypnorum) quietly moved into a nest box outside Reddishpink media studio in the garden. We think, sometime in April or May 2021.
We didn’t know anything about this new species of Bumble Bees until our MD, Mark Ellison, noticed that the fur we’d put in their (intended as a Blu Tit nest) started peaking out of the entry and poked it back in.
When a load of these wee Tree Bumble Bees came rushing out, imagine his surprise. The surprise quickly turned to curiosity, and research began online.
The Ginger Arrows.
Watch our mini-documentary about Tree Bumble Bees (Bombus Hypnorum).
Tree Bumbles Bees are relatively new to the UK..
It turns out that these little Tree Bumble Bees haven’t been here for that long. First discovered in 2001 in Wiltshire, England, scientists think they must have got here either on a strong wind across the channel, in a plant imported here, or possibly via Eurostar.
Slowly they have moved north to Scotland, and sightings are becoming more common with reports and comment from people encountering these little Bees nesting in Bird Boxes, Eves and attics across the UK.
We should also say
While the Tree Bumble Bees were very patient with us when we got very close, we would NOT recommend trying this yourselves. If you are lucky enough for a colony to move in, enjoy it but do take care and remember these are wild critters.
Tree Bumble Bees are excellent pollinators.
The Tree Bees (Bombus hypnorum) are excellent pollinators and live in harmony with our native Bee Species, many of which are in decline, so they’re very welcome.
Tree Bumble Bees don’t want to hurt you.
During their time here outside the Reddishpink media studio, the Tree Bumble Bees have been extremely well behaved. They were not interested in what we’re doing and minded their own business, working all day tirelessly into the early evening. When we visited through the night (around 3 am), we noticed that a few Bees would hang out just outside the nest keeping guard, in the pitch black of night..
The Tree Bumble Swarm or Dance.
We did get a little nervous when we first witnessed the swarm, but again, they just did their own thing and didn’t seem too bothered by our activities. The swarm is made of horny little males (that cannot sting) waiting for the Queens to emerge from the nest so they can mate. And not many do. They seem to fly in little formations, so we nicknamed them the Ginger Arrows.
The Making of The Ginger Arrows
Tree Bumble Bees movie.
We do a lot of video production for our clients at Reddishpink Media. Here was an opportunity to make something for ourselves, so we decided we should make a film and share the story of these little Bees with you.
The Tree Bees were filmed over approx forty days and brought several challenges.
How could we get close to the Bees with our macro lenses and lighting to create strong footage? How would we film the mating process? How could we do this without alarming our little furry friends?
In the end, it all came down to a careful approach and a lot of patience and perseverance.
Our admiration for nature documentary filmmakers like David Attenborough and Gordon Buchanan grew as each day of waiting passed.
As it turns out, the Bees were very easy-going with us. Each approach was made slowly and with great care. They almost seemed to get used to our presence. On a couple of occasions, they landed on our arms and just had a wander around. We also helped a very tired Queen we found on the ground by giving her a little sugar water and shade from the sun. Witnessing her recover and fly off again was truly wonderful.
The males were only interested in waiting for Queens, and the female workers focused on collecting pollen to feed the nest and, when necessary, protecting it from intruders.
The only thing that seemed to annoy them were vibrations from something touching the fence (where the nest box is attached). When this happened, quite a few came out and swarmed – a warning to anyone thinking of moving in.
Patience is the key. We witnessed many Queens leaving the nest during the forty days we were filming and watching.
Sometimes the Queen and her chosen male would come together mid-air and fall like stones to the ground together before mating. We also witnessed Queens flying off with a male on her back to somewhere more ‘private’ but sadly didn’t catch this on film.
The purpose of our little Tree Bee documentary is to share the news of these little creatures and encourage people not to fear them. Rather, we hope our fellow humans will welcome their presence and help them whenever possible.
To create the footage, we used a range of equipment, including Sony A7siii and Leica SL2 cameras and a range of lenses from zooms to Macro. When possible, we lit the Tree Bees using Relio lights with miniature modifiers.
This article and the Tree Bumble Bee video documentary were created by Mark Ellison, Managing Director of Reddishpink Media.
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