I learned that most of the native bees in Texas are ground dwellers. That meant that whatever nest I built would need to be very low. I learned that bumblebees like to nest in old mouse holes. On the Internet I found a lot of sites in the UK that sell bumblebee houses and a lot of chatter about their effectiveness. Apparently the queen is not easily amused. Here are the two best websites I found for constructing a nest. http://tomclothier.hort.net/page38.html. http://www.insecthouse.co.uk/insect-house-designs/bee-houses/
I had some old shelving and thought that it would make a good start for the project. The bottom shelf of this unit was about the right dimensions for the two-chamber design.
Then I cut a block to divide the two chambers and drilled a hole in it. This is what the queen can use to enter the nest.
Finally I drilled some ventilation holes and stapled some mesh over them to keep other bugs out. I cut up an old bag I had for the squares.
Now I just have to wait. Bumblebee queens start looking for housing in February. I haven't seen any out in the yard - in fact I have rarely seen any bumblebees in the three years I have lived here. I planted lavender next to the box to try to entice them in years to come. If I can make the backyard a destination, perhaps some day her highness will deign to grant me the magnificence of her presence and raise a regal brood.