A couple of weeks ago, I went outside to plant a new flower purchased for my garden. I got a real deal on some geraniums at a garage sale. These flowering plants appeared to be Bigroot Geraniums or Geranium macrorrhizum. I thought these would be perfect for the sunnier end of my shade bed and maybe the shadier end would keep them from getting too aggressive. At $2 a pot, I bought 4 large pots.
But when I went to dig into this large pot I have on the ground, I started hearing buzzing sounds. OMG! Yes, you guess it! A nest of bumblebees!
Needless to say, I got up really fast , brandishing my garden knife like a sword, and crouched behind a large hosta growing there. ( Like that was really going to help if it was a swarm of hornets or something like that.) I watched the bumblebees slowly buzz up from the ground, hovering and seeming to look around and see who or what was disturbing them. I know I was crazy not to run out of there, but curiosity got the best of me.
The bumblebee nest was in a “bottomless pot” that I had made from an old planter I had. It was made of a weird hard Styrofoam like material and was very light. Since it was about 24″ tall and about 24″ in diameter, I thought I would make a planter from it. I cut off the bottom and left the top “collar” which was about 15″ high. I painted it with some Rustoleum Stone Creations paint and it looks very much like hypertufa.
Buried in the ground, it is bottomless so that I can put plants with a large taproot without worrying about the roots hitting bottom. I had previously had a bottle gentian there, but dug it up to plant it in the sunny side of the house. No bees were there at the time so they must have set up a colony afterwards due to the tunnels left from plant roots? Maybe? Or was there a small abandoned mouse or chipmunk hole?
It is the strangest thing when you poke a planting knife into the ground and start hearing the buzzing. Seems unbelievable when I look back now, but it took more than a few seconds for me to realize what I had just done. I guess I was lucky it wasn’t a nest of ground hornets or something else that could have attacked and stung me badly.
I have made a short video of the shade garden area so that you can see where it is. So far, no one has been stung at all. The bumblebees are very docile and friendly. I have planted and weeded around there. Even the lilac bush that we recently trimmed in this post is right next to the bumblebee nest and we had no problem at all.
Is A Bumblebee nest dangerous?
If you or anyone living around you is allergic to bee stings, then the answer is Yes. However, if a random sting is not necessarily life-threatening to you, the best thing to do is to allow the nest to serve its purpose. The bees supposedly will not stay long, and since mine is inside a garden bed which I only occasionally water, I plan to just leave them be.
I know that I need to protect the pollinators around me, and these bumblebees are helping me in my flower gardens all around. I have not had any problem with them. I think they moved in here when I pulled out the bottle gentian and replanted it in the sunny garden. I just spaded it up from the loose soil and walked away, so I believe that I left tunnels where I had pulled out roots and the scouting bees just took advantage of it. Learn more about protecting our bees here.
It is OK by me since I love to go checking on the bumblebees (bombus ) every day and see if I can see any change. When I first dug my spade in, I do remember seeing the small cluster of “chickpeas stuck together.” That was apparently a little glimpse of their cells. After settling back, I have sprinkled a little soil and leaf debris back onto the top of this bumblebee nest area so that they are still hidden. I know we have squirrels and chipmunks wandering through the garden. They just love to dig up my hens and chicks and play soccer with them apparently. LOL
I hope you will watch the video. I set up my camera on a small tripod next to the nest and filmed a lot over a period of time. I got a little bit of the action of rebuilding. One time a had to really hurry as it started to rain! I really had to restrain myself on the video and not include all that footage.
Aren’t I doing my part to Save The Bees? I sure am. I don’t feel threatened by the bees. I know they are busy in my garden every day and I know some of those Big Buzzers slowly fly around me checking me out.
They know I am their friend. Just don’t sting me, please!
Hi, I am Kim and thank you so much for visiting my magazine! I am a gardener and a hypertufa maker. If you came here to learn about hypertufa, I have a lot of information. But I also write about flower gardening and using succulents which are great drought-tolerant plants.