Bumble bees nest in the ground, often in abandoned rodent nests. The queen emerges in the early Spring ready to build their nest, build honey pots and lay eggs. Your goal in building the nest is to mimic the conditions she is naturally searching for. You can build a nest using lumber, but an equally good option is using a flower pot.
- Flower pot 10-12in in diameter. It can be clay or plastic, but needs at least one hole in the bottom.
- A piece of wire mesh that roughly fits the top diameter of the pot. Chicken wire or hardware cloth used in the pot to keep the nest material off the ground and dry.
- Piece of garden hose
- Old mouse nest, bird nest or leaves, twigs, dry grass
- Knife or hammer and nail
- Flat rock to cover hole in bottom of pot
- If needed, drill a hole in the bottom of the pot
- Place the nest or leaves and twigs into pot (I found an old mouse nest that I was able to use)
- Bend down edges of wire mesh and place on top of nesting material (It doesn’t have to be neat and pretty, just functional)
- Using either your knife or the nail and hammer, make 4-5 holes in the bottom of the hose (the whole pot/hose assembly will be flipped over so in the above photo the part of the hose you see is actually the bottom).
- Insert one end of garden hose into pot until it is close to the bottom. If you aren’t sure it is in a good position, tip the pot over and look for the end of the hose through the hole. It should be close to bottom, but needs to have space for the bee to get in and out of the hose.
- Find a relatively dry, shady spot in your garden near flowering plants (specifically those that will be able to provide food-remember, not all flowers have easily accessible pollen and nectar!)
- Dig a hole wide enough to fit the pot and deep enough to allow 1/2 to 3/4 of the pot to sit below ground level. Dig a short trench for the garden hose to lay in (about 12in).
- While you are carefully holding the mesh and hose in place, flip the pot upside down and place into the hole.
- My hole was initially too shallow so I removed the pot and dug it deeper.
- Fill in the soil around the pot and over the hose.
- Once you are satisfied with the position of the pot and garden hose, cut the hose off close to, but slightly above the surface of the soil. You don’t want lots of soil running into the hose every time it rains.
- Finally, place your flat stone over the hole on the pot, making sure it extends over the edges of the pot.
If you place several of these around your garden of different sizes you will provide homes for multiple bees as they do not share with their neighbors!