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Bumble Bee Nest in my Shed

Updated on September 14, 2012

Finding the Bumble Bees Nest

I was very excited to hear buzzing when I disturbed a small pile of hay in my garden shed. I had a bees nest. I couldn't wait to discover exactly who was living there.

I really enjoy wildlife and gardening,so have been trying to entice bees by planting flowers which will attract them and give nectar throughout the year. The nest seemed to be proof that my efforts had paid off. I was especially pleased because I know that honey bees and bumble bees have suffered a crash in numbers, so it's extra important to welcome them into your garden. With my nest I felt like I was contributing a little bit to bee conservation. I sat down in the doorway of my shed to see what bee species would appear.

Bumble Bee Flying

White Tailed Bumble Bee Takes off
White Tailed Bumble Bee Takes off | Source

White Tailed Bumble Bee

There are 6 types of bumble bee that tend to make use of gardens in the UK: The garden bumble bee, buff tailed bumble bee, white tailed bumble bee, early bumble bee, red tailed bumble bee and common carder bee. After looking at bee ID pictures I decided mine are white tailed bumble bees. They proved very entertaining to watch as I hope the video shows.

A Bee with Pollen

A pollen laden white tailed bumble bee lands on my sleeve
A pollen laden white tailed bumble bee lands on my sleeve | Source

Watching Bumblebees in my Shed

The white tailed bumble bees have proved to be very entertaining. They come in and out of the shed through a pop hole which leads into my rabbit run. They don't bother the rabbit at all and only land on me if I am right in their way. When I first found them their nest was near the web of a labyrinth spider. This led to the drama captured in the video. The spider has since moved out which has made life easier for the bumble bees.

Enjoying my bees so much meant I started to notice every time bees came up in poetry too. It's quite surprising how many bee related poems there are.

The Bumble Bee Versus the Spider

Bumble Bee Life Cycle

In spring the bumble bee queen, who has been hibernating alone underground, emerges. She is hungry and in need of energy. Nectarful Spring flowers are essential to give her enough energy to find a nest site, such as my garden shed or a nice grassy tussock. Then, using pollen and wax she makes a mound into which she can lay eggs. Once the eggs hatch out into larvae she must feed the larvae by herself, so really has her work cut out. However when the larvae become bees, she has her first (female) workers and the nest can start to grow.

The queen’s job is now to lay eggs and keep the workers in order, whilst they guard the nest and bring back pollen and nectar. Later in the season some eggs will hatch into males and new queens. These will leave the nest to find a mate, the males die and the queens feed as much as possible to build fat reserves for hibernation. Their fertilised eggs won’t be laid until they emerge next year

Bumble Bee Life Cycle Diagram

The life cycle of the white tailed bumble bee
The life cycle of the white tailed bumble bee | Source

Why are Bumble Bees Dying?

Unlike honey bees they haven’t been decimated by viruses or mite infestations. However bumble bees need nectar and there are far fewer wild flowers now due to modern agricultural methods such as herbicides. Bumble bees may also be affected by mobile phone masts which can disrupt their ability to navigate effectively. However loss of wildflower meadows is likely to be the prime cause of their decline. According to ‘The Bumble Bee Conservation Trust’, Britain has lost 97% of its flower rich grassland in the past 80 years. Loss of bumble bees is a worry, because as well as being lovely to have around they help pollinate some of our favourite food crops like strawberries peas and apples

Wild Flower Meadow

Wild flower meadows, such as this buttercup meadow, are great for bumble bees.
Wild flower meadows, such as this buttercup meadow, are great for bumble bees. | Source

Flower Rich Grassland

The clover in this flower rich grassland is especially attractive to bumble bees
The clover in this flower rich grassland is especially attractive to bumble bees | Source

Bees Don't Like

  • Pesticides
  • 'double' flowered varieties of plants such as Kerria, which are usually sterile so have no nectar or pollen
  • bedding plants such as French marigolds, begonia and petunias

How can I Help Bumble Bees?

Use your garden to grow nectar rich flowers for bumble bees from early spring to late summer. Different bee species prefer different flowers, so grow a wide range if you can, especially of perennial plants or wild flowers. Some plants which bees love are foxgloves, clover, single flowered roses, heather, lungwort, runner beans and lavender.

Don't be too tidy in your garden, areas of long grass, log piles and undergrowth can be good bee nest sites. The jury's still out as to whether the commercially available bumble bee nests are effective at attracting bumble bees.

Help the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust by surveying bee populations and supporting their work.

Bad Bumble Bee Flowers

Pansies have little or no nectar so are not good for bumble bees.
Pansies have little or no nectar so are not good for bumble bees. | Source
double flowers, like this double variety of the lawn daisy, are of no use to bumble bees.
double flowers, like this double variety of the lawn daisy, are of no use to bumble bees. | Source

Good Bumble Bee Flowers

Bumble bees love foxgloves
Bumble bees love foxgloves | Source
The dog rose is also popular with bumble bees
The dog rose is also popular with bumble bees | Source
White tailed bumble bee on dog rose
White tailed bumble bee on dog rose | Source
Blueberry flowers - despite being small and unshowy, blueberry flowers are good for bumble bees
Blueberry flowers - despite being small and unshowy, blueberry flowers are good for bumble bees | Source
a common carder bumblebee feeds from raspberry flowers which bumble bees love.
a common carder bumblebee feeds from raspberry flowers which bumble bees love. | Source

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    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 4 years ago from UK

      Whew! I’m so glad you released the bee! I could hardly bare to watch any more.

      This is another great bee hub, and the information here is really useful. I didn’t know the best flowers for bees and I am now thinking to move the pot of lavender that’s right outside our conservatory door as that could be what’s attracting them, so they come in and get stuck.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks for all this great information on bumble bees it was very fascinating to read and learn more about them, well done ! Loved all the beautiful photos as well !

      Vote up and more !!!

    • Nettlemere profile image
      Author

      Nettlemere 4 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Thank you Melovy - moving your lavender is a good idea, it might well reduce the numbers of bees which get into the conservatory.

      Kashmir56, I'm delighted you enjoyed it, thankyou for visiting and voting!

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

      What great photos, and what great information about those little bees! So few people are aware of the role bees play in our food supply. They do far more than pollinate flowers!

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 4 years ago from Northern California

      Here in California we love our honeybee's, so do my fruit trees and garden. I really liked the closeup photos of the bees, very cool.

      Voted up and useful

    • D.A.L. profile image

      Dave 4 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      hi Nettlemere,

      excellent hub with great photographs, really enjoyed reading this hub. Many do not realise how important bees are to our general well being ,and are good indicators of the general health of our countryside.

    • maggs224 profile image

      maggs224 4 years ago from Sunny Spain

      What a fabulous hub I really enjoyed every aspect of this hub. I have vote this hub up, and hit the I,U and B buttons too.

      I will put a link to this hub in mine so people can find out what type of flower to plant in their gardens for the bumblebee.

      I loved the photographs video and the text a very informative and interesting hub.

    • Nettlemere profile image
      Author

      Nettlemere 4 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Apologies Marcy and adjkp25 - I don't know why I didn't see your comments before - A belated thank you both for visiting.

      DAL - I'm pleased you enjoyed the hub, hopefully the media in general is beginning to make people more aware of all the Bee pluses. Still a long way to go though.

      Maggs - I'm delighted you enjoyed it and thank you for the votes and link. I shall do a reciprocal link as our hubs complement each other.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      A great hub and I now look forward to many more by you.

      Eddy.

    • Nettlemere profile image
      Author

      Nettlemere 4 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Thank you Eddy, I'm pleased you enjoyed it.

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