Main page

Setting up a wildlife garden

Plants for butterflies

Plants for bees

Plants for hummingbirds

Plants for birds

Plant map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Main page

Setting up a wildlife garden

Plants for butterflies

Plants for bees

Plants for hummingbirds

Plants for birds

Plant map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Main page

Setting up a wildlife garden

Plants for butterflies

Plants for bees

Plants for hummingbirds

Plants for birds

Plant map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Main page

Setting up a wildlife garden

Plants for butterflies

Plants for bees

Plants for hummingbirds

Plants for birds

Plant map

 

 

 

 

Giving bumblebees a place to live

  bumblebees mating  
  Prior to finding an overwintering site, a young queen will be mated by a smaller male bumblebee. The males die in the fall and queen survives the winter on a large store of internal fat.  

Bumblebees are truly incredible insects. They work long hours and have the ability to heat up and fly even when the weather is quite cold. While they do pack quite a sting, they are docile preferring instead to issue a warning buzz when they are disturbed. A bumblebee house should not present a danger to you or your young family members. A bumblebee can waste a large proportion of the nectar collected just to power the commute between a nectar source and the nest. You can aid a queen's chances of success by providing a shelter close to your wildflower garden and by growing some plants that will provide a source of nectar in the spring. A bumblebee house should be ready to place outside in the spring when a young queen emerges from her underground winter abode and starts looking for some food and a place to nest. Place your house in the shade or where it will get a small amount of morning sun. Place the box on some wooden pieces or stones to avoid the accumulation of moisture inside the box. Once placed, the house must not be disturbed. It is tempting to lift of the lid to see what is going on, but a disturbed queen is likely to leave the nest and seek another abode. When the queen has raised the first generation of workers and no longer leaves the nest, then it is OK to take a quick peak. A typical nest will contain between 30 and 300 bees depending on the species. There is less than a 1 in 4 chance that your house will be used. You can try varying the entrance type as well as the site. Some bees prefer tunnels in the ground while others are perfectly happy with a tunnel entrance above ground. For ground-tunneling bees, use a flexible hose and bend it so that it goes into ground and then up into the box. If you want to do a bee project with your children, I would suggest making a house for solitary bees because the chances of getting occupants are almost guaranteed.

 

To build a house you will need to cut the following pieces of wood. I would use a half-inch piece of plywood to make your cuts:

Three 7 x 12 inch pieces (For the floor and the side walls)

Two 7 x 8 inch pieces (Front and back walls)

One 7 x 6 inch piece (Divides the inside into two rooms and supports the side walls)

One 7 x 11 inch piece (shaved slightly smaller to fit as a lid)

One 10 x 14 inch piece (The upper half of the lid)

You will also need:

Some 3/4 inch screws to bond the wooden pieces together

Some 1/2 screws to keep the mosquito mesh in place.

Some thick tubing big enough to insert your middle finger in.

Some upholsterers cotton (preferably with a high proportion of cotton)

 

bumblebee house

Glue the floor and a side wall together. Make sure that the side-wall is glued to the side of the floor so that the inner space will be 7 inches wide. Use nails or screws to hold the wall in place. To guide the screw, it is helpful to pre-drill tiny pilot holes in the right positions.

Drill a 1 1/4 inch or 1 inch hole into the dividing piece about 1 inch from the bottom (the hole shown here is too high).

bumblebee house The divider is 7 inches wide and 6 inches high. Apply glue to the dividing piece along the bottom so that it can stick to the floor and along one of the sides so that it can stick to the side-wall already attached. Place the dividing piece about 1/3 of the way down the box. Use a nail or a screw to hold the top-half of the divider to the side wall. There should be a half-inch gap left at the top of the divider to allow for the lid to fit.
bumblebee house
Apply glue to the open side of the divider and the open side of the floor. Attach the remaining side-wall. Use nails or screws to strengthen the bond to the floor and one nail/screw to attach the side-wall to the top half of the divider.
bumblebee house

The front and back pieces are 8 inches wide and 7 inches tall. Drill a 1 inch or 1 1/4 inch hole in the front piece to match the outside diameter of the plastic tubing. Place the hole so that it will be a few inches above the ground.

Drill four 1/2 inch holes along the back piece for ventilation and cover them with mosquito screen to stop ants from going in.

bumblebee house

You can cut the screen to size using a utility knife (Stanley knife). To affix the screen, use half-inch screws or staples.

Glue the front and the back to the rest of the box and put the tube through the entrance hole. If necessary, apply some glue to keep the tube fixed in position. A black tube is better as it mimics the entrance to a hole in the ground.

bumblebee house

To make the lid, glue the 7 x 11 inch piece to the centre of the 10 x 14 inch piece. You may need to shave the 7 x 11 inch piece to ensure that it can fit inside the box.

Place a fistful of shredded upholsterers cotton inside the main chamber. The cotton is not supposed to fill the box and there should be some space around the ball.

bumblebee house

You may also want to place a piece of cardboard in the entrance chamber to absorb moisture from faeces.

Put the lid on and place the box where there is afternoon shade or complete shade. If you live in cooler places, then you may want to put the box in a sunnier location. Bumblebees can heat their houses, but it is much harder to cool them down so if you are in doubt, then choose a place with shade.

   

If you have read this page, you may want to try building shelters for other bees.

       
   
 

.