I was very lucky to have bumble bees nest in my garden this year 🙂 I am now preparing for next year in the hope of having another nest.
This is the nest box I was using.
It’s been in the garden a couple of years, and this year we were very lucky to have bees find and nest it it.
When they were gone (bumblebees nests only last a few months) I opened up the box. Sadly I found what I think are wax moth larvae, which apparently aren’t good for bees nests. The bees had also left me a nice sticky mess, so I decided a new nesting place would be easier than trying to clean it all out.
I looked online for ideas. I like to make things myself where I can, and I came across photos of a nest someone had made from a terracotta pot with a saucer on top. So, we’ve made our own version.
It’s a terracotta ‘chimney planter’. It already had a drainage hole in the bottom, so we only needed to drill the entrance hole. We did this with water and a masonry drill, very slowly and carefully, not pulling any weight on the drill; just letting it pull through on its own so we didn’t break the pot.
The saucer on top overlaps the top of the chimney and provides a nice roof. I picked the fluted chimney thinking that the gaps at the top, when under the saucer, would provide ventilation. But once assembled I think the gaps are too big, so I basically made mud pies! We have clay soil so I have plugged up some of the space of each hole, reducing the size of the ventilation gap. I have no idea if this will work long term but by wetting the pot first, I’ve managed to get the mud to stick.
We added a small piece of pipe to make a nice entrance. I’ve lattice piled some sticks in the bottom to make a base layer over the drainage hole, and I’ve added natural fibre nesting material. Now it’s all ready for early next spring!
This was actually cheaper than the ready made wooden bee box I was using; The box was £17.99 in 2014, whereas the chimney planter was £4.99, and the saucer was under £2. Of course, we already had a masonry drill, and the bit needed (hole should be 18mm +). Sticks were from the garden and the natural fibre I chose was some sheep wool I already had for the birds.
I think it looks really good, I just hope the bees like it too!
EDIT: It’s now autumn 2017 and the bees did not nest in this planter this year. Looked like a spider beat them to it. I cleared out the web and now it looks like something has made a cocoon in there.
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