Expanding on the Expanding foam

It was a great day again on Sunday so I took the opportunity to wield the expanding foam again. The plan was to do two things:


  • modify our "triple 3-into-1 tube" set of fake entrances to be covered in moss and look more realistic - with the entrance holes much more vertical standing so they can be seen easily from above. 
  • create an additional nest site from an old poster tube - the idea was to site this amongst the longer grass where the bumblebees have been nest searching, to make it look like a mossy embankment. 


It was all very easy - I've documented the steps in pictures below.

First i made a cardboard base for the "nest tube" and covered it in "bin bag" plastic. The plastic will go face down, to stop the cardboard getting damp and rotting. The top side will be protected by the expanding foam. 


I separated the two ends of tube by packing it with moss and a little hamster bedding. To create a slightly different environment, favoured by different species of bumbles I put a little more bedding in one end and stones in the other. 
contents of one end of the tube
As an extra precaution I fed 10mm tubing into the end of the pipe, to create extra ventilation (and potentially an inspection pathway). 
ventilation & access tube
I stuck the pipe to the base with gaffer tape. As ever I included a thermometer, down into the centre of the tube. Soft drink bottle bases cover the ends. It ended up looking like some kind of crazy bomb. I can assure you it's perfectly safe. ☺
assembled nest tube, with thermometer, before foam is added
Next the fun (and messy bit) - cover the tube in expanding foam. As is started to dry (about 15 minutes) I spray painted it dark brown (mud / earth colour). Looks like a nice cake! ☺
nest tube covered in expanding foam
As it continued to dry, but still a little tacky, I covered in moss, collected earlier in the week. 
moss layer completed
The placed amongst the longer grass. Not sure how I can make it any more real than this, other than actually digging up the lawn! The dark patch on the right hand side is of particular interest. 
final site of nest tube in long grass

Next, the same trick for our "3 into 1" tubing, which goes to a nest box. I made a cardboard wedge from an old box and waterproofed the same way. Note, I poked drain holes along the tubes. 


3-way tube being prepped for foam
Then the foam, as before. The two uppermost pipes are fake.. they are blocked off - just there for additional effect. 
foam added
Again, spray painted brown, then the moss added while tacky.
triple tube, covered in moss..
Here's a view of the two systems in place along the central line we have created down the garden. Bumblebees like to navigate along linear features, often edges (e.g. gravel / grass edge, or crop edge). Our flags and long grass creates the linear feature (and actually shows some signs of working!).
tubes in situ, leading to small nest box
Close up of the 3-into-1 tubes. We are experimenting with one yellow entrance. We do not really expect interest in this, because the Queens tend to think it is a flower, not a hole. But the experiment will see how rigidly they stick to this basic understanding. You can see the nestbox that the tubes lead to. 
close up. 
Finally a view of the entire feature.
full setup - with clear linear featureOur next job will be to simplify the clutter along the left of the picture - the edge is not sufficiently defined and we think the plants (mainly heather) are too close to the nest areas. We'll move them to the cloche area and again try to create a strong linear feature along the lawn edge.
BCW saw 3or 4 queens nest searching in the garden today. They had slightly improved interest in our setup, but not enough to fully explore any of the entrances. We'll get there!