For this month's My Wild Garden Year challenge, we would like you to create an artificial nesting site for queen bumblebees in your garden.
Early in the spring, generally from March onwards depending on the weather, Queen Bumblebees will emerge from hibernation to feed and look for places to build their nests. They use structures like old vole or mouse nests. You can help them by leaving some early Dandelions in the garden to provide an essential early source of nectar and by building a bumblebee nest by following these instructions:
1. Find a dry and sheltered sunny area in the garden to site your nest. On a bank is ideal as this will be well drained but if this isn’t possible, use a flowerbed or the bottom of a hedge.
2. Get a clay flowerpot, of a depth of 20cm or deeper and half-fill it with nesting material, such as shredded paper, dry grass or straw.
3. Attach a 5cm length of hosepipe (25-30mm wide) to the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot.
4. Bury the pot upside-down in the soil, so that the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot is facing upwards and the entrance to the hosepipe is poking out of the soil.
5. Add a 10cm tall upright stick near to the entrance to the hose pipe. This will help you remember where it is and will also be used by the bumblebees later in the summer to find their way back to the nest.
You can get more instructions for creating artificial bumblebee nest boxes by clicking this link and the pictures below, as well as more hints and tips for wildlife gardening in February.
Don't forget to send us your pictures on social media using the hashtag #MyWildGardenYear or on email using the subject title 'My Wild Garden Year.