The nest site preferences of British bumble bees were investigated using 432 nest records from a public survey in 1989-91 in which bumble bees were identified to colour groups, each of which contained one or two common and widespread species. Significant differences were found between colour groups in the position of nests relative to ground level, the time of day at which sites were exposed to direct sunlight, and the nature of the immediate environment of the nest sites. Two sizes of wooden artificial domiciles and some made from house bricks and a roofing tile were set out in the field, at or above ground level, over a three-year period. The most frequent occupant was Bombus pascuorum. The proportion of domiciles occupied by bumble bee nests was generally low (average 1.5%), except in one uncultivated garden site. Brick and tile domiciles were cheaper and no less successful than wooden ones, but occupancy rates were too low to reveal any significant differences in acceptability of different bedding materials.
Bombus, bumble bees, domiciles, habitat selection, nests, surveys, UK