Tree bee life cycle

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Anonymous (not verified)
Tree bee life cycle

Hi. I'm new here and not an expert on bees and their life cycles.

Last year I had a tree bee nest in my great tit nest box. Over the winter all activity ceased and I was lead to believe (after reading several articles on the web) that tree bees vacate the nest and find somewhere to hibernate. Today I decided to take the bird box down and clean it out ready for any new occupants next year (birds or bees).

There was an old bird nest in the base and at the top was a silky and suprising strong construction which felt like a thick duvet and was presumably the tree bee nest.

After having a close look at it, I decided to remove it from the box and when I started to pry it away (it was very well secured) a yellow larva popped out and I could see the end of another larva. I have attached photos of the nest and the larva. Is this a bee tree larva?

It seems that the larvae are overwintering in the box ready for the spring. Should I leave well alone since it appears that these bees aren't a problem in the UK and they certainly weren't aggressive towards me last year? I have already removed the old bird nest which the bees may need so should I put the bits back in?

Do these bees overwinter as larvae in addition (or instead of) flying off to find a suitable site. Is there likely to be an adult (queen) alive inside the depths of the nest.

Thanks in advance for any information you can supply. I suppose if I posted this on a bird site, I would be advised to remove the bee nest to make way for a great tit!

Nigel Jones
Last seen: 1 week 1 day ago
Joined: 11/11/2011 - 20:07
Wax moths!

Dear Dipper,

This is a wax moth larva by the look of it. An associate of bumblebees. There is a nice item about it here:

Dipper (not verified)
Wax moths

Hi Nigel

Thanks very much for that information. It certainly does look like it's a wax moth silk nest and larvae. That solves my dilemma. They'll have to go. I'll clean and sterilise the box and see who gets there first in the spring.

Thanks once again.

Last seen: 7 years 11 months ago
Joined: 21/10/2014 - 08:31
Hi there, I've spoken with a

Hi there,
I've spoken with a contact who said it may be the larvae of the Bee Moth, Aphomia sociella.



Dipper (not verified)
Bee moth

Thanks for taking the trouble to find that out Rob.

As well as resembling wax moths, they do also look like bee moth larvae. The larvae are very yellow and I've seen a photo of a bee moth larva on the internet which is also yellow and has the nine pairs of spiracles down the sides. The silky cocoons look identical to the one I found. I can confirm they are extremely strong. I had great difficulty opening the lid of the nest box and found the cocoon mass almost impossible to cut into even with a sharp Stanley knife.

I guess this shows the complexity of nature. The moth larvae are destroying the tree bee nest and the tree bees have taken over a great tit nest. All I need now is for the great tits to eat the moth larvae and it's gone full circle.

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