Photo: How to help bumblebees

Learn how to make a bumblebee nest! (Credit: Lindsay Coulter)

Did you know that there are about 250 species of bumblebees and they all need our help? To identify one, just look at the colour of its tail — and a few other details!

There are three kinds of bumblebees, those that nest:

  1. Underground
  2. At ground level
  3. Above ground

In addition to pollinating wild plants and food plants like tomatoes and blueberries, bumblebees that nest in the ground benefit your garden by:

  • Improving soil quality
  • Increasing water movement around plant roots
  • Mixing up soil nutrients

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How to make bumblebees welcome

Most common species prefer dry, dark places. Your yard is probably home to a few types of bumblebee nests — some can contain up to 400 bees!

Underground nest opportunities include abandoned mouse holes, under garden sheds and in compost heaps.

Ground-dwelling bumblebees will also nest in a compost pile — some love the heat.

Above-ground bumblebees will take over any bird house you didn't clean out! They also make nests in thick grass and in tree cavities.

How to make a bumblebee nest

This DIY bumblebee house comes from a beekeeper friend: Grab a plastic plant pot. Fill it about two-thirds full of dryer lint (nesting material). Tip it upside down and place it at ground level, in a shady area. Place an old plate on top and a rock — that weigh enough to hold the plastic pot in place while leaving the pot's holes open for ventilation.

Find more detailed bumblebee house "how to" instructions, complete with images, from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (PDF), Garden World and the Renewable at Home blog.

Be a good neighbour to bumblebees and don't disturb them. They have work to do!

Sincerely, Lindsay Coulter
A fellow Queen of Green

July 28, 2015

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Mar 18, 2017
9:23 AM

You say to cover the pot with a plate and a rock, but that covers the holes. Please explain about the ventilation.

Mar 22, 2017
6:06 PM

Most plastic pots from nurseries have holes that are on the bottom and wrap up the sides. That’s the style you need. Lindsay, Queen of Green

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