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How to make a nest for bumblebees.......


Bumblebees are important players in the pollination process, particularly in the early season when honey bees are not active.

Bumblebees have an annual lifecycle, with new nests being started each spring by queens. The queen bumblebee are very large and from february onwards can be seen feeding from flowers such as willow catkins, bluebells and lungwort, or flying low over the ground looking for a nest site. Some species prefer to nest underground in abandoned burrows of rodents (inc. voles or wood-mice), while others nest just above the ground in dense grass or leaf-litter. The fact that bumblebees quite frequently use bird boxes gives us a clue to using boxes of similar construction.

Create your own nest:

1. Choose a spot in a (warm) sunny position, that has well-draining soil (ie dry).
2. Dig a hole around 20cm deep and 10cm round.
3. Ideally build a plywood box 10cm wide and 20cm tall, and place the nesting material in that. (fine dry grass and a little dried moss if poss. Form it into a ball about 75mm across, with a cavity in the centre) Ideally the nest site should be made ready by May.
4. Use an iron rod about 2.5cm wide to create a tunnel to the hole. (or a short length of plastic tubing same size)
5. Place a 45cm wide cement slab over the hole to keep it dry and insultated from extremes of temperature.

Alternatively, you can use 6 inch lengths of bamboo canes tied together. Or you
buy ready-made bees boxes and bee nests.

Bumblebees are not easy to upset, so if you are patient and move slowly, there is little chance of being stung. But do take care, especially if you are allergic to bee stings!

This article comes from a Wildlife Garden magazine, printed with Let’s grow Veg., issue 5. But there are other books to read:

The Humble-bee by FWL Sladen ISBN 0-9510242-3x
Bumblebee Economics by Bernd Heinrich ISBN 0-674-08581-7
Bumblebees by Oliver E Prys-Jones ISBN 0-521-27781-7

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Previous post: Bee friendly plants for dying bees......

Next post: Plants food for ladybirds, our aphid eating friend



we have several bee nests around the conifers. I have to be careful when I am tidying up. never thought of making them for them. lovely idea.

29 Apr, 2009


Ah, that's interesting Sbg! That's one reason why it's never a good idea to be "too tidy" around the garden!

29 Apr, 2009


This is a lovely and caring blog,and will certainly try this out in our garden.Lots of bumble bees around at the moment seem to be attracted to the marsh marigolds around the pond .

29 Apr, 2009


Well, who'd have thought, eh?
I would never in a million years thought you could 'make' a bumble bee nest.

Nice one, CraftN.

29 Apr, 2009


Thanks c/n wonderful Idea as we do have quite a few bumblebees coming into our garden. I have a head start though, I have still got the birds nest that my grandson made at school a few years ago, it is a beast of a thing made from half inch redwood and the hole he put in is far too small for any bird and nothing has used it,so with a little guidance from your blog I shall endeavour to convert it to a bees nest, I think the perect place would be behind either the magnolia or the chinese lantern tree as both are very bushy and I have to crawl underneath on my tum to get to any weeds under there. Thanks for that brilliant tip.

29 Apr, 2009


Glad you all like this blog!

Bb, Marsh marigolds are very attractive to a large number of insects, so, fab!

Bobg, I had to laugh at the image of you on your tummy! The things us gardener's do! Lol!

Glad you can make use of your grandson's box, great idea! Hope you get some tenants soon!

30 Apr, 2009


Craftnutter your blog is great,do you think having a nest made around my miniature willow tree would be a good idea? or next to my butterfly bush? as i have read this morning that bees love this plant too?, i will do everything i can to encourage the bees and ladybirds into my garden as we need them and if we didn't i still think they are fantastic to watch and have.

30 Apr, 2009


today i have found some holes near my shed and lo and behold its a ground bee with a red tummy, will post some photos when it stops raining!!

30 Apr, 2009


Yes c/n I have been in some silly positions in the garden getting to weeds, I even ended up practically stood on my head when I overbalanced trying to get to a rather out-of-the-way weed one day, but I have a trowel with a longer handle these days. And as for crawling under the bushes I have many a time come out with a cardigan full of gravel and when I stand up ...... well you can imagine. lol

30 Apr, 2009


Thanks CN. I am going to try this in my garden and have already copied and printed the instructions. I did build a "Bumble bee nest box" a few years ago, but it is still in the garden and has never attracted any takers. Yours sounds a more feasilble method and well worth a try. Yours is a great blog and well worth te effort you made. I hope lots of people try and help both the bumble bees and the honey bees, the subject of your previous blog. May you be lucky in your quest to improve the plight of bees.
By the way, you are so right to say that bumble bees are difficult to upset. If one is trapped in my greenhouse or more occassionly, in the home, I normally manage to free them by placing my hand next to them and allowing them to crawl onto it where they generally stay until I can get them outside to freedom. It's almost as thouigh they know that you are trying to help.

30 Apr, 2009


Rosina, a box near the Buddlea Davidii/butterfly bush sounds like a good idea, if you can manage it? I hope you manage to get some takers, so you can sit and relax and watch them. :-)

Hehehe Bobg, are you sure there's no plant/weed growing somewhere in one of your cardigan pockets, teehee!! A long handled trowel, now that I didn't know you could get. Will have to investigate!

Ooooh, Sewingkilla, that is exciting! I've seen somewhere 6 photo's of bees to help us identify them. Will try and see if I can find it, lol!

Toto, thanks! It would be nice to know if we manage to help a few bees, wouldn't it? Bumble bees are the gentlest creatures I know, and I get cross with my dd when she freaks at the sight of one (or any insect for that matter, thanks to her older brother!)

30 Apr, 2009


I am not sure if you can buy them I made mine from an old brush stale just cut it down shaped it and then replaced the original short handle. Sorry! :o(
And I wondered what that funny looking leaf was poking out my cardigan pocket :o)))

30 Apr, 2009

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