There's a nettle patch in the garden I let grow a bit; only this spring I let it get a bit out of hand so when I cleared it out, I found two bumble bee hives. It's not the first time I found bumble bees nesting in the garden, one winter a few years ago I dug into the ground, only to hear a sound that I couldn't quite make out, I looked to the sky to see where the aeroplane was but found only empty sky. Empty sky a first that was, soon it was full of bumble bees, bumble bees in the winter I thought, what going on? Then the penny dropped, loud buzzing noise -- bees, oops, I looked down to the hole in the ground, to find it seething with slightly upset bees. I got out of there pretty sharpish.
One slight problem when relaying the bees in the garden story, is that I encounter some incredulity. Apparently the received wisdom states that bumble bees don't over winter in numbers and that it's only queens that survive. Well what can I say, it happened, attribute to my account what credibility you see fit.
My tip for hosting bees in the garden, is to build a loose compost heap with twigs and the fibrous stems of plants. Alternatively let the nettles, and mint get a bit wild, the network of roots, loosens the soil and lets the bees create voids more easily.
I'm not the only person with bees in the garden, a neighbour has them nesting in holes on the edge of her lawn. They're not bumble bees though, they look more waspish.