The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

How to encourage bumblebees in the garden

Bumblebee boxSo what do you do if you want bumblebees in your garden?  You need to provide three types of habitat --- foraging, nesting, and hibernating.

Like honeybees, bumblebees can be encouraged by having some steady nectar-producing plants around.  Clover is a top choice since it blooms all summer long, and I can report that our bumblebees are definitely thrilled by our clover-filled lawn.  It helps to mow the lawn in sections, too, so that there are always bits in bloom.

As for nesting and hibernating --- some folks buy special bumblebee boxes like the one shown here, but that seems like a waste of cash to me.  Instead, you can turn a flower pot upside down in an out of the way spot and cover it with a lid.  The bees use the pot as a protected entrance to the underground burrow where they live.  It goes without saying that you shouldn't rototill near the bumblebee nest site so that you won't disturb their home.  Of course, the easiest solution is just to leave some areas of your yard completely alone to grow into native plants and provide a natural nesting and hibernating ground.

This post is part of our Bumblebee lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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