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Man made nests

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Joined 2012-07-17

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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!

     
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Joined 2012-05-28

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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 :(

     
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Joined 2012-07-30

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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.

     
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Total Posts: 28

Joined 2012-07-17

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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?

     
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Joined 2012-10-05

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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

     
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Joined 2013-04-21

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Have a look at this article “Bumblebee nest boxes don’t work” by Tamara Jones -
http://planetearth.nerc.ac.uk/news/story.aspx?id=975

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 -
http://www.sbes.stir.ac.uk/people/goulson/documents/lyeetal.JNaturCons2011.pdf

     
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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

     
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Joined 2013-05-17

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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.)

     
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Total Posts: 22

Joined 2012-05-28

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Well we’ve got a nice wee Pratorum queen who took up our offer of a wee house about 3/4 weeks ago, a week or so ago the first workers appeared and are happily buzzing in and out harvesting! fantastic and very exciting!

     
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Joined 2012-06-06

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Hi All, you may find this of interest….

Making a bumblebee queen into a movie queen!!! video http://bit.ly/16on01y

Cheers George

     
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Joined 2012-05-28

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Our nest is going mental at the moment, it’s SO busy and we counted 7 new queens returning to the nest this afternoon. I think we have an additional 50+ workers, it’s just amazing! so chuffed!!!

     
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Joined 2013-07-05

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Anyone tried the Bee Lodge from the Eden Project and if so, was it successful?

     
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Joined 2012-06-06

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For £140 quid and a live bumblebee colony it had better work!!
Cheers George

     
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Nurturing Nature - 07 July 2013 09:46 PM

For £140 quid and a live bumblebee colony it had better work!!
Cheers George

LOL.  Exactly what I thought.  The live bumblebee colony.  The queen might take one look and decide the lodge is not to her liking…and take up residence in the compost heap.  Must admit the lodge does look nice but whether bees would stay in it is anyone’s guess.

     
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Yes they stay in it. That is the whole idea. They are imported as a viable living colony primarily for horticulture/agriculture/researchers. The queen will not desert a viable colony with perhaps 40 workers or so. There is a food supply and everything they need to live. If she deserted you can bet there would be a huge outcry from farmers etc., that they had deserted. They want their tomatoes, etc. pollinated and not have to go searching for the queens and workers.

The queens are not like honey bees who leave the colony when they become overcrowded and some leave with a new queen in search of a new nest site, (swarming). This is not the case. Once settled inside the queen stays to lay eft till she dies. The colony may live for 6 weeks or so.

There is a whole ‘fun’ element in trying different ways to attract wild bumblebee queens into nest boxes… something you learn as you go along, experience incidentally I pass on to my customers willing to learn about such matters and try for themselves. I had 7 this year! This was exceptional though!

     
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Joined 2013-07-05

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Had what I was sure was a queen fly in the kitchen about 1/2 an hour ago - she was big.  Buzzed around for a bit then flew out again.

I’m doing up the garden (front and back) at the moment - a big job as both are like a wilderness but will be planting flowers and plants to attract the bumblebees.

Also popped into Lidls tonight on the way home from work and noticed they are selling habitats - the wooden ones with tubes that you fix to a wall or fence.  Might give one a go but not sure whether to put one on the east facing fence or the back of the house which is south facing.