Concerns about bumblebees interacting with pets and children
Bumblebees are not aggressive insects and are generally only interested in finding flowers. Having a bumblebee nest in your garden can provide a great opportunity to teach children about these vitally important pollinators and how we can live together in harmony. We have lots of resources available to help on our Bumble Kids pages. Respect is the key, so the best approach is to encourage children to let the nest be.
It is worth noting that bumblebee nests normally live for about 2 or 3 months so if you have a nest then it will only last for a short period. After this time, if you want to ensure a new queen does not make use of the same nest site next year then you can seal up the entrance hole. Please wait until you no longer see bees coming and going before doing this.
The only time when bumblebees may act defensively is if something disturbs their nest so it can be a good idea to put some sort of barrier in place a few metres from where they are nesting so that any pets or young children do not disturb the nest. If this is not possible then you can divert the nest entrance to make the bees enter and leave in a different place.
Diverting the nest entrance
To do this, get a length of flexible tubing that is at least 2cm in diameter. The type of tubing used in sink waste pipes works perfectly. Then, attach the tubing to the nest entrance. Make the junction between these as tight as possible, to avoid having bees coming out of the wrong place. Gaps can be plugged with soil. Then place the other end of the tube wherever you want the new entrance to be. Secure it in place as best you can, and place some ‘landmarks’ around it. The bees use landmarks to navigate, and whenever they leave the nest they will fly around the hole to memorise what features are around it. Anything can work as a landmark, but pebbles, plant pots, etc. all work well.
If you are going to use this approach then it is best to do so at night when the nest is dormant. Bees cannot see the colour red therefore using a rear bike light instead of a torch will reduce the liklihood of any bees emerging to investigate what’s going on.
If you still have concerns, please read our bumblebee nest FAQs.