Make Your Own Bumblebee Nest Box
Its the time of year that queen bumblebees are emerging from their
over-wintering hiding places to find a spot to hatch the season's colony in. Bumblebees are magical and important garden visitors. We want to encourage them as much as we can to show up in our garden. Providing nesting sites is one excellent way to do this.
For nesting sites they look for warm, dry, shoebox-sized cavities in the ground. Old rodent nests or tunnels, tree hollows near the ground, or areas of grass that have grown dense and fallen over all make excellent natural sites for the bumblebee's nest. If you have habitat like this around, leave at least some of it undisturbed and you might find bumblebees nesting there this summer. Brush piles can be great nesting sites. Man-made spots can attract them too. Rotting mattresses in junk piles, areas under porches, or piles of concrete chunks have all been known to house bumblebees.
Should any bumblebees come looking for a nesting site, you can help ensure a good one is available by building a nest box:
1. Using preservative-free lumber make a box with dimensions of about
7 X 7 X 7 inches (as seen above.) The box needs a lid and must be weather-tight, moisture will harm the developing larva.
2. Drill ventilation holes on the upper sides of the box and
cover with window screen to deter ants.
3. Insert a plastic pipe into the box for entry. Cut the end of the pipe at an angle so water doesn't drip into the entrance.
4. Put bedding such as cotton batting inside the box for nesting material. Refresh this every year.
5. Dig into the ground so the lid of the box is at about soil level. Cover the box with straw, twigs, or brush.
The nest box above is one we made that lives on our farm.
For more information, check out: Nests for Native Bees