Picture of Build a Nest Box for Bumblebees
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It is mid-March now and this is the moment, here in the Netherlands, that the bumblebee queens are coming out of hibernation. You can easily recognize them, because they are the only bumble bees flying out there for the moment. All bumblebees die in autumn each year, with the exception of the new queens who go into hibernation till the next spring.
You can also recognize queens who look for a nesting place by their behavior. They will fly from hole to hole (in the ground or in walls) looking for a suitable place for a nest.

Having a nest of bumblebees in your garden is not a bad thing. They are very docile creatures that will ony sting you (yes they can sting!) as a very last form of defence when you attack them yourself. Most of the time, they will try to fly away from you or they will drop on their back on the ground with their stinger pointing at you.

If you are an avid gardener, then you should welcome these animals with open arms. They are one of the best pollinators in the animal kingdom. They actually outperform bees. Firstly because they have longer tongues, so that can get in deeper flowers and secondly because of their ability to carry more pollen. They also can't tell their kin where the best flowers are. So bumblebees will go from flower to flower much more than bees, who home in on the best spots.
Having a nest box near your vegetable patch could increase your crops in a significant way. These boxes can hold between 50 and 600 bumblebees (depending on their species) and they will pollinate your garden for about 8 to 10 weeks.

You can buy commercially bred bumblebees in a box for pollination, but in this Instructable I'll tell you how to build your own box and how to start your first bumblebee population.
gronan11 year ago
You have given me A nice weekend project for the weekend. Too cold in central Minnesota to do much gardening yet but I can make several bee boxes to place on my 6 acre's. Thank you!
I do bee keeping but with honey bees. This is an excellent idea! I really want to do this too! =)
smac741 year ago
Good job. Anything that helps bees is a good thing. Time for me and my kids to get one made.
AVBA1 year ago

I tried leaving this comment in step one, but some glitch wouldn't allow it.

Bees can't see a lot of red because they're red blind they can't tell the difference between red and black.

Thanks for the information on how to build the nest box. I'm planning on trying some of Karl von Frisch's bee experiments this summer.

Great Instructable and very interesting; is the entrance coloured to attract the bees?

janw (author)  FriendOfHumanity1 year ago
Not really to attract, more to guide them back to the nest.
kaijura1 year ago

This is fantastic - I hope a lot of people read this as, in the United States, we are suffering from a huge wave of bee colony collapse disorder, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_collapse_disorder) a lot of which has been caused by insecticides and herbicides as well as by a bee virus. We really need as many people as possible to open their homes to bees to preserve our agriculture. You've made it easy and understandable. Good job!

Jeffo231 year ago
Have you ever eaten bumblebee honey?
janw (author)  Jeffo231 year ago
Nope. Bumble bee honey shouldn't be harvested as they only keep enough in store for 1 or 2 rainy days. It is also very difficult to harvest as bumblebees don't build honeycombs but little pots to keep their honey in. You would destroy the entire nest if you would try to take it out.
jakestar801 year ago

Fantastic instructable! I really enjoyed all the bumblebee factoids.

streetrod51 year ago

Wow, this is a great Instructable, and you included some interesting bee facts. I just noticed the season's first bumble bee here in the Pacific NW, so now is the time to build one!