I did notice a fat bumblebee flying around abandoned Nest A when I eventually opened the house, and even took note of how fearless it was. It flew right to the nest and crawled on the mossy top while I was still peeking, but I thought only that the bee was curious. I didn't know enough then to imagine it was nesting in there.
|Notice the blurry hovering bee at the door.|
|How could I not guess she was going to her nest? But I didn't.|
One article said to remove abandoned bird nests to encourage rebuilding, so after enough days to ensure the chickadees were permanently gone, I talked Moe into helping me with the task. I don't know what I was afraid of, but I didn't want to do it alone.
He slipped it out of the box on a kitchen spatula. Imagine our surprise when the nest itself began to buzz. Not a soft buzz that could be chalked up to imagination. No. This was a furious insistent buzz that wouldn't quit. Moe laid the nest in the dry bed of a nearby birdbath, and we stood still to listen and wonder. Not only was it buzzing. It was vibrating. I whipped out my phone and began taking a video. One mossy depression in particular was shaking, and as my camera and I watched, out of that spot wiggled a huge fuzzy bumblebee. It hovered over the hole for a moment with a piece of green moss hanging from its leg. It shook it off, then zoomed over my shoulder and away. I could not have been more surprised, but was thrilled to get it on video, already thinking what a great blog post it would make.
Still, I didn't get that the bee had a nest in there. I just thought it had gotten stuck, and I was its great liberator. But alas, after only one viewing, I deleted the video immediately. Now I regret the hasty decision, but at the time, my background commentary so embarrassed me, I knew I would never post it. Let's just say it did not represent me well :-). In the surprise of the moment I lost all pretense of acting like an adult. It's quite shocking to hear oneself in the act of being oneself.
But I digress. We left the box-shaped nest in the birdbath, thinking that was the end of the story. But two days later I heard it buzzing again. That's when I finally realized there was a bumblebee nest inside and it was likely what had frightened off the chickadees. So I wrote that last blog post, asking for guesses, though it's clear to me now that most people, like Moe and Pukeko G, could figure it out right away. Two more days passed and the buzzing stopped. A couple of pokes with a stick helped me decide the hot sun had sent the queen bumblebee packing.
Meantime, I read Patricia Lichen's coincidental and informative blog post about the nesting habits of a queen bumblebee, and it made me curious to see if there was such a colony inside our nest, now abandoned by everyone. So yesterday I raked it apart with a couple of sticks and sure enough, found the remains of a hard waxy bumblebee colony along with another surprise that I didn't notice at all until I looked at the photos in my camera.
|Remains of bumblebee colony that fell out of mossy nest when I raked it open.|
|Bumblebee colony turned over.|
|But look! What's that in the lower right hand corner of the photo?|
|Just one lonely chickadee egg!|
|To give you an idea of size.|
|See how precious and tiny.|
So special and fragile. So well protected. They were probably doomed from the moment that queen bumblebee began her magnum opus, the great work of her life, but how heavy my heart to discover it now. Are the parents grieving? Will they mate again? Have they begun a new nest? Oh, the beauty and brutality of the natural world. dkm