What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Help identify this nest of bees
Hi Bugman!
I am so grateful I found this site and I am hoping you can identify this nest of bees which have decided to take over a bird house in our back yard. Are they dangerous? Are they endangered? I hope you can help, they make me a little nervous!
Thanx a lot!
Linda Robb

Hi Linda,
Because we are feeling cantankerous, we must begin by yelling at you. Where are you???????? Insect identification is difficult enough when location is known. If we didn’t love your photo, which is awesome, we would have simply hit the delete key and moved to a letter with more substance. If you are in the eastern U.S. or Canada, these are Red-Tailed Bumble Bees, Bombus ternarius. According to our Audubon Guide: “In early spring queen enters opening in soil to build honeypots and brood cells. Small workers develop first, visit flowers for nectar, and construct new brood cells. With warmer weather, larger adults develop. Only young mated females overwinter.” With the current state of the world, all living things are endangered but your native bees are not rare. They are not aggressive, but you should not disturb their nest or they will sting repeatedly. Please let them live in their awesome new home.

Sorry Bugman,
I live in Portland, Oregon. Thanks for identifing our bees. I have a few more awesome photos of them if you want me to send them to you. I have never seen a bee that looked like that before. They swarm around the front of the bird house in the middle of the afternoon when it is hot. It looks like they have some kind of a cone just inside the opening of the house. So sorry I didn’t give you more information in the beginning, it is the first time I wrote to someone about them! Best Regards,
Linda Robb

Update (05/01/2006)
Eric Eaton provided us with some assistance on this one: ” Ok, the bumblebees should be Bombus melanopygus, if my memory serves. We called them red-tailed bumblebees when I lived in Portland. That is a neat shot, one we could use on Bugguide because we don’t have that species yet.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

8 Responses to Red-Tailed Bumble Bees move into Bird House!!!

  1. Sandra says:

    We are in Utah in the Salt Lake area after two days of searching to identify and seeing the photo sent to you, I would swear that we have red-tailed bumblebees in our raspberry patch area and some have burrowed down in our compost pile. My roommate who is allergic got a nasty sting on her face and then after a third attempt of moving compost to her garden area one got down in her shirt and stung her on the side.

  2. luci says:

    I live in Shelton Washington and found these bee’s in my birdhouse on the back porch 2 days ago. We did not know what they were. What we did know that everytime we went out on the porch they started swarming and chased my mom in the house. My mom ran into the bathroom until I got it out. Yesterday they were swarming so we put a nail on the big tree on corner of house but they swarmed horribly and we set it down on the compost bin post because there are 3 other bird houses already secured there. Well later 2 bee’s came to old location on porch and are still buzzing aroung mad on the back porch because they cannot find the home. What do I do?

    • bugman says:

      We do not provide extermination advice.

    • Coleman Remington says:

      This board is full of animal lovers. This is bound to make someone mad so it’s hard for them to chime in I believe. I read you cannot relocate their nest. So it must be left alone or destroyed. I enjoy that you want to help them find their nest but you did what you could and the need chose a bad location to create their home. I personally have a bird house on the side of house and I walk up and take pictures of their nest and they leave me alone. It could be due to the fact half the time I am smoking a bowl so that may calm them or what not. I am no bee expert but I was surprised to read that they are more aggressive.

  3. luci says:

    I should also say that about 15 feet away in the wood pine area I found one on the ground in a small hole not far from were we are building a fence. Again this is luci from Shelton WA

  4. Jane says:

    I just discovered bees in one of my 2 birdhouse s on my porch (the other is used by black capped chickadees). I was sweeping and accidentally jostled the house. I then heard sound like a dog whimpering and looked in without thinking. Wow. One and then more camp out & chased me to the other end of the porch. Trapped 10 feet from the ground, I waited till they calmed down and then made a run for the only door which was inches away.

    Then I used this google search & found you right away:
    “bees in my birdhouse-brown+yellow+red spot on abdomen”
    Thanks for helping me name them. I will take good care of them-important pollinators we are lucky to have.
    Jane on Whidbey Island in NW corner of WA state

  5. Coleman Remington says:

    Thank goodness I found this. Same exact thing happened to me. I am glad to know I am providing a healthy environment for the bees to enjoy.

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