The Xerces Society bumble bee conservation nest survey

Bumble bees are important pollinators of agricultural crops and wild plants, but we know little about their natural history in North America. Anecdotal evidence and preliminary research suggest that bumble bee species are declining throughout the continent but much more research is needed. You can help! By filling out this short survey when you find a bumble bee nest, you’ll be contributing to important research on bumble bees. Every detail brings us closer to understanding and conserving these important pollinators!

A bumble bee nest might be located anywhere- one of the reasons for this survey is to find out where they like to nest! It could be under a log, in the ground, in a tree, in the side of a building, or in an old mouse burrow. You’ll know you’ve found a nest if you see bumble bees flying into and out of the same hole repeatedly and if you hear a humming sound near the hole. Bumble bees are gentle and ignore people unless grabbed or their nest threatened, so you’re not likely to get stung unless you block the entrance or if you disturb the nest itself. When you’re near the nest, move slowly and walk softly so you don’t alarm them and you’re very unlikely to be stung. You will likely not be able to see the nest, as it will probably be concealed by something like leaves or grass. Don’t try to uncover the nest if you can’t see it. You don’t need to see the nest itself to contribute invaluable information for this research- just be as descriptive of the location as possible.

Thanks again for your support of bumble bee research!

For information on bumble bee anatomy, ecology, and species identification, please see these sites: or

Before continuing, please make sure that you are observing a bumble bee nest and not a carpenter bee nest.  If the bees are nesting directly in solid wood, it is likely a carpenter bee.  Carpenter bees also have shiny abdomens, while bumble bees have hairy abdomens.  If you have any questions, check out this link.

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The Xerces Society • 628 NE Broadway Ste 200, Portland OR 97232 USA • tel 855.232.6639 • fax 503.233.6794 •
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