Queen buff-tailed and red-tailed bumblebees Bombus terrestris and B.lapidarius induced to form colonies by confinement with workers, near Ripple, Kent, England
Sladen F.W.L. (1912) The humble bee: its life history and how to domesticate it. Macmillan and Co., London (added by: Dicks L. 2010) The humble bee: its life history and how to domesticate it,
Bumblebees Bombus spp. are declining in Europe and
In spring 1910 and 1911, seven pairs of nest-searching buff-tailed bumblebee queens Bombus terrestris were captured and confined together in seven wooden boxes for a week or more, supplied regularly with honey and pollen. When one had laid eggs, two buff-tailed or white-tailed (B. lucorum) bumblebee workers caught at flowers were introduced. These workers were generally also kept confined until a new brood of workers emerged.
With two queens and two introduced workers of B. terrestris or lucorum, a colony was formed in every case. One queen was always killed by the other queen. Several (the book does not say have many) colonies were also formed by combining a single queen with one worker and then adding two more workers after egg-laying commenced.
B. pratorum workers did not tend the brood of B. terrestris, but laid male eggs themselves. A very small colony was formed in this case. The B. lapidarius colony initiated with cocoons from another nest and seven workers became the largest of all the artificially initiated colonies.