Where Do Bumblebees Nest? Common Nesting Locations for Bumblebees

If you plan on getting rid of the bumblebees in your yard, you have to find their nest first. But where do you start? Their colonies are oftentimes so well hidden that they’re very difficult to locate. So where do bumblebees nest? And how do you find them?

 Where Do Bumblebees Nest? Common Nesting Locations for Bumblebees

Bumblebee nests are sometimes hard to find if you don't know where to look for them. CC Image courtesy of Phelyan Sanjoin on Flickr

Inside the Bumblebee’s Nest

Locating a bumblebee colony means understanding their nesting behavior. Bumblebees are like a cross between hornets and honey bees. They make hive-like structures, but they don’t last long.

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For bumblebees that live in temperate regions, life usually starts in spring. The queen wakes up from hibernation and looks for the best spot to build a new nest. Once she’s chosen a site, she builds circular or pod-like wax chambers inside it and work with what’s available to her. Sometimes, nests can have a lot of foliage underneath then. That’s because bumblebee queens love to live in abandoned rodent burrows that already have chips, dried leaves and twigs inside them.

The bumblebee queen proceeds to lay her first batch of eggs. She places each one inside a wax pod. Until the eggs hatch, grow into larvae and mature into workers, the queen takes care of them, feeding them nectar and pollen.

Over time, the nest gets larger. Foragers collect pollen and nectar, and workers cultivate the nest. However, this doesn’t last long. The old queen will eventually stop laying worker bee eggs and produce male drones and young new queens instead. The two groups will mature and mate, and the young queens will leave the nest to hibernate. They’ll wake up in spring to start colonies of their own. But for the old nest, it’ll just die out with the remaining bees succumbing to their short lifespan.

Where to Find the Nests

So where do bumblebees nest? Well, nesting sites depend on the kind of bumblebee you’re dealing with. Most species build their homes below the ground. They often choose abandoned rodent burrows because they already come with foliage and a roomy cavernous interior. You can identify a bumblebee burrow by checking for little holes in the ground and bees coming in and out of them. There could also be a small mound or a tiny grass clearing.

Bumblebees also nest inside compost heaps, small dirt formations, rock formations and natural under sheds or the ones that are attached to your house. The last one’s not that surprising since there are cases of these bees building homes inside the crawlspace.

Other species are not so hidden from the world. They make due with thick clusters of grass, and they usually choose the tall and thin ones rather than the kind that’s flat and short. There are even species that take advantage of the gaps between tree roots, creating partially exposed nests.

In the end, any grounded place that can give them enough protection from predators and the unpredictable weather is perfect for the bumblebees. And if you do find the nest that you’re looking for, make sure to use the best methods to get rid of it.

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  • September 11, 2017
  • Bees