Has anyone ever had any luck with man-made bumblebee nests, either shop-bought or home made? I had a couple in my last garden which were roundly ignored, where an old mouse hole in the lawn was used virtually every year by red-tailed bumblebees (usually until a toddler stepped on them, but that’s another story).
I’ve got a new garden to make in to bee-paradise, so if anyone’s got any good tips then I’d love to hear them!
We have a couple of wooden nesting boxes in our garden, the year started off fantastically, we had a wee (terrestris) queen that took to one in March during that sunny warm snap, seemed very happy tootling in and out, she made her nest, laid her eggs and then mysteriously (around the same time as we had snow) disappeared leaving all behind. We were absolutely gutted!
We tried with a few other queens but to no avail… so sad :(
Go to your local pet shop and ask for old mouse bedding, you will get some strange looks! Place in a clay pot and bury in a dry part of the garden, not full sun, make sure hole is uppermost. There is something about the smell of mice that works for bees.
Thanks, I’ll try that - if the hole is at the top, do you need to provide shelter over the top of it for the occasional shower we seem to be experiencing?
I have found that old hamster bedding work as well as old mouse bedding in attracting bumble bees it works in wooden boxes, so encourage all the children that keep small rodents to recycle their bedding for bumblebees.
Note the cotton wool bedding can trap the bees by the feet
Have a look at this article “Bumblebee nest boxes don’t work” by Tamara Jones -
The research this is based on [Gillian C. Lye, Kirsty J. Park, John M. Holland and Dave Goulson, 2011 “Assessing the efficacy of artificial domiciles for bumblebees”, Journal for Nature Conservation, 19(3):154-160] is available here -
I have read the research in the Journal for Nature Conservation where it does acknowledge that Bumblebees are attracted to old rodent nests, it would be good to see if the use of rodent bedding was the major attractant for searching queens, perhapse a study could be carried out with artificial nest boxes baited with rodent bedding of from different rodents?
Today I noted a queen bufftail entering one of our sheds that has had mice in this last year I will be checking to see if she raises a colony there
Bumble bee queens looking for holes. Are you sure they are just looking. I watched a red tail queen searching over some pretty dense grass which I could not see through. She landed and worked her way in out of sight. I could follow her movements by the shaking of the grass but could not see her. After a few minutes she emerged and just flew away. Could she smell a trace of mouse? Flowers have colours that only bees can see, and bee guides, but they also have perfume, and it cannot just be for our benefit, so I presume bumble bees have a pretty well developed sense of smell. As one of the main sources of holes in the ground of a suitable size are often used by mice it makes sense if they have learned to follow the scent of mice. Presumably old rather than fresh- do mice not eat bumble bees or their larvae? They raid honey beehives so how do bumble bees get on with such big entrances? (If so this may be a problem with new mouse nest material and why it is not always that successful.)