How to make a bumblebee nest

Do it:

Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec

Takes just:

30 minutes

Bumblebee numbers have declined in recent years, due to changes in agriculture, which have led to fewer nesting opportunities and flowers for them to feed from. Making this simple nest will encourage them to nest safely your garden. Many species nest underground in old mouse or vole burrows - which this project mimics.

You will need

  • Flowerpot, 20cm in diameter
  • Tube or piping, 30cm length x 1.8cm diameter
  • Chicken wire
  • Slate or tile
  • Nesting material

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Select a generous amount of nesting material - ideally an old mouse nest. Alternatively, cut up some dry straw, avoiding using any that's damp or rotting.

Make a cradle out of chicken wire to support and keep the nest dry. Fill the cradle with plenty of bedding material, but don't pack it too tightly.

Perforate an old piece of piping with drainage holes, using a needle. Push the pipe into the cradle so one end sits in the nest at a shallow angle, allowing the bees to climb in and out easily.

Dig a hole deep enough to submerge a third of the flower pot. The pot will be part-buried in the ground to create the cool, moist conditions bumblebees need.

Gently turn the pot upside down, holding the cradle, nest and pipe in place with your hand. Then sink the pot into the ground, ensuring there are no kinks in the entrance pipe.

Push loose soil up around the edge of the pot and pipe, leaving the pipe's tip poking out above the surface. Place the slate over the top to keep the nest dry.

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Kate Bradbury

Kate Bradbury says

Nest-searching bumblebee queens emerge from hibernation in spring, having gone without food for up to six months. Make sure there is plenty of pollen and nectar in your garden for them when they wake up – grow spring-flowering trees such as apple and cherry, and plant up pots of bulbs such as crocus and snake’s head fritillary.

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