Making bumblebee nest spaces
Having bumblebees nesting in the garden is a great way to learn about them. If you have a nest, you may at first just see a single queen carrying food to the nest, which she stores for her future offspring. A few weeks later you should see the first worker bees who will be helping the nests get larger, and hopefully they’ll soon be followed by new queens or males, which should mate with males and queens from different nests before the new queens go into hibernation.
Providing nesting sites for bumblebees can be as simple as just leaving a quiet spot somewhere such as a corner or behind a shed, and letting the weeds and grass grow tall. But if you want to go further than that, you could try making a bumblebee nest space yourself. We have teamed with up with the people at Hartley Botanic to produce this guide for making bumblebee nests (click the image below to see a larger version). It may seem strange to think about nesting bumblebees in late summer, but if you make one now you may find that mice will use it over the autumn and winter. Bumblebee queens searching for nests actually seek the scent of mice when looking for nests. Having the mice in residence now could increase your chances of having your very own bumblebee nest next year.
So go on and have a go, and let us know if you have made any successful bumblebee nests yourself!