Hope I can get some friendly advice here.
I would like to have a bumblebee nest in my garden, however, I understand
that commercially bought nests are not advisable due to the unknown origin
of the bees purchased. But what are the thoughts on the Beepol nests you can
buy from places such as Watkins & Doncaster?
Are they ok or should they also be avoided?
Welcome to the bumble forum.
I personally would never want to use any “bought” bumbles, from whatever source - because apart from the fact that it is expensive, you’d need to replace them each year. Consider the following:- Are these “bought” bumble nests really helping bumbles, or are they designed to commercially exploit the feelings of us humans, wanting to do something to help ? Is it really a good thing to do, loading more bumbles of just one species onto your local patch? How many more of your neighbours have bought yet another nest box in their garden? The whole area could be inundated with “bought” B. terrestris audax. Has anyone ever considered all the other fascinating bumble species that, given the right welcoming habitat, will potentially come into your garden - thus having to compete with the introduced “bought” newcomers for the same foraging sources? I prefer no bought boxes and to support my seven “local patch species” - [Bombus terrestris, B.lucorum,B. pascuorum,B. pratorum, B.lapidarius, B. hortorum, B. hypnorum] and their “cuckoos” [B. rupestris, B. sylvestris, B. campestris], that already visit here year after year. Speaking from experience, my wildlife garden has been pesticide-free and a bumble friendly “nectar filling station” for more than two decades!
“If you want to cater for your bumbles, then for me, bumble nest boxes have always been an expensive waste of time and I get more bumble colonies [Bombus lapidarius; B. terrestris; B. pratorum; and B. hypnorum etc] using north-facing bluetit boxes with old nesting material left in place, than ever used the one bumble nest box that I bought several years ago “to try out” - this was pre “bought bumbles” - you had to wait for a queen to find it - and it failed. The very best thing to do to help your bumbles, is to plant up your garden with masses of bee-friendly flowers and bulbs [now is a good time to start], aiming to provide a continuous supply of nectar and pollen for them from February through to late Autumn in 2014 and thereafter if the flowers are hardy perennials. A sprinkle of suitable annuals is an added bonus in summer. Don’t forget winter-flowering shrubs too such as Lonicera purpusei and Mahonia, to provide nectar & pollen for early-riser bumble queens that are roused from hibernation on warm spring days. Also remember that some bumbles have short tongues, needing open flowers; and some have long tongues, needing flowers with tubular corollas. It is fascinating if you are a gardener. Check out all the great bumble info on this web site. Get to know and enjoy your “locals”. Have fun .
I hope this is of help? Sorry if I rabbit on a bit, I do love my bumbles and want to help!