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How to make a bumblebee nest

Overview

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.

How to do it

Bedding material

1Select 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.


Making the cradle

2Make 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.


Attaching the entrance pipe

3Perforate 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

4Dig 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.


Placing the nest

5Gently 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.


Covering the nest

6Push 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.


Adam's tip

If you find an old mouse nest in your shed, add this to your bedding material. Its scent will attract nest-searching queens in spring.
Place the nest under a south-facing hedge or fence.



Discuss this project

Talkback: How to make a bumblebee nest
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kaycurtis 24/11/2011 at 15:27

can you imagine a world with out bees, honey and all the other things that bees contribute to our planet.

Urszula 24/11/2011 at 15:27

Dear Gardeners World, Your bee identifier pictures in the magazine do not match the bee identifier pictures on the conservation website. This is very confusing as I do not know which bee I have now seen.

The differences are in the pictures for the Early bee, Bombus pratorum and the Red tailed-bee Bombus lapidarus. i.e. the magazine has the pratorum with one yellow band and you have on your website the same bee with two yellow bands.

Best Wishes
Urszula

louroff 24/11/2011 at 15:27

I have a north facing garden , but the bees still seem to like it

janetgould54 24/11/2011 at 15:28

fantastic, once again the grand children had fun making this with me. i have a friend who cuts the wood, and we do the rest. thank you.

renewableshome 24/11/2011 at 15:28

Nice overview, but a few important details were left out. Site the nest somewhere that doesn't get much direct sunlight. Bumblebees don’t manage high temperatures well. Also, you should have at least two ventilation holes in the flowerpot, secured against ants with mosquito netting.

I built my own flower pot bumblebee nest a while ago. More tips about increasing the chances of having a thriving bumblebee family move in, see http://www.renewablesathome.com/ecology/how-to-build-a-bumblebee-nest

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