Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 23, Issue 5–6, pp 787–801 | Cite as

A systematic review of the nesting and overwintering habitat of bumble bees globally

  • Amanda R. LicznerEmail author
  • Sheila R. Colla


Some bumble bee species are in decline globally. Declines have been attributed to many factors including habitat loss. Habitat is an integral component of any species and should be a central focus of conservation efforts to protect at risk species. However, the habitat of bumble bee species is not fully understood. We conducted a systematic review of the peer-reviewed literature using Web of Science to summarize articles that have described the habitat of bumble bee species. In total, 55 nesting and 10 overwintering habitat studies are described in this review. We described common patterns associated with bumble bee studies including overwintering habitat, landscape type, and ground position. We found that bumble bee nests are more frequently found underground and that studies were biased towards the United Kingdom and agricultural habitats. There are some preferences in nesting and overwintering habitat, but further research is needed to draw any substantial conclusions. Detection of nesting and overwintering site studies may be improved using citizen science initiatives and possibly through employing detection dogs or radio-telemetry. Increasing the detection of nesting and overwintering sites is an important priority to improve our understanding of bumble bee habitat. It is critical that we identify all aspects of bumble bee habitat to ensure the protection, restoration and creation of important resources to ensure their conservation.


Bombus Bumble bee habitat Bumble bee nesting Nest detection methods Nesting resources Overwintering habitat 



We would like to thank the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Postgraduate Scholarships for providing the salary for ARL.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

None to report.

Research involving human participants or animals

This research did not involve human participants or animals.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of Environmental StudiesYork UniversityTorontoCanada

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