The white-shouldered bumble bee is the predominate nesting bumble bee in above-ground nest boxes
James Herndon, James D. Herndon , Karen M. Kapheim , Amber Tripodi , James P. Strange
Late; Utah State University; Logan, Utah, USA ; Utah State University; Logan, Utah, USA ; USDA-ARS Pollinating Insect Research Unit; Logan, Utah, USA ; USDA-ARS Pollinating Insect Research Unit; Logan, Utah, USA
Insights into bumble bee (Bombus spp.) nest establishment are essential in managing these important pollinators for agricultural and natural landscapes. Having bees establish in lab settings is time-consuming and costly. Providing proper nesting habitat to establish colonies in the field would save time, effort, money, and concerns of pathogen exposure from captive breeding programs by allowing wild queen species to establish nests on their own. Self- established colonies will also provide observations on wild colony initiation, growth, andsymbiotic relationships in the natural social environment of Bombus. Prior observations where artificial nest boxes were placed above-ground on trees had some nesting occur. Because of this we installed all of the nest boxes above-ground and we investigated factors that influence bumble bee establishment in them. The factors tested were aspect placement and entrance coloration with UV reflective color cues. Anytime a bumble bee was observed interacting withthe nest boxes occupancy was documented and nesting behavior was documented by the presence of eggs/brood or the presence of workers in the nest box. One hundred and two above-ground nest boxes were placed in high elevation rocky mountain forest habitat in Northern Utah, USA over two seasons. Unexpectedly high occupancy and nest success was documented across species, but particularly for the white-shouldered bumble bee B. appositus. Aspect and color cue showed no significance in occupancy or nesting. Other observations include the presence of the social parasite B. insularis and usurpation by conspecific queens. This study warrants further investigation of the efficacy of above-ground nest boxes in wild and anthropogenic landscapes.