In answer to a reader's question, I've just provided instructions on how to move a bumblebee nest. Yes, it can be done. I can't say that I recommend it. For one thing, there is a slight chance you'll get stung. Also, the bees will die in late fall and you can then destroy the nest without harming them.
However, if the nest is in a spot where the bees simply cannot be allowed to stay, it is possible to move them to a nest box and then put them somewhere that's safe for them and you. If you put them in the right kind of nest box (see below), you can even enjoy watching the activities inside the nest.
If you'd like to know how, check out the instructions in the Question & Answer section I've started on the right-hand side of the blog. If you want to see previous Q&As (just one so far, but I hope they'll accumulate) check out the new website I've started. I plan to archive all my old posts here in hope that I do a better job of organizing them than I can here at the blog, so the information will be easier to use.
The information on moving bumblebee nests is adapted from a wonderful book, by the way. I recommend Brian L. Griffin's Humblebee Bumblebee: The Life Story of the Friendly Bumblebees and Their Use by the Backyard Gardener to anyone who's interested in bumbles. The book is hard to find in stores but is still available from Brian's website , which is now being run by his daughter, Lisa Novitch.
The company Brian founded, Knox Cellars, specializes in orchard mason bees, another wonderful native bee. But they do sell a few bumblebee items including the Humble Bumble Observation Home, which Brian designed so that you can actually peek in and watch the bumbles at work. If you have bumbles to move, I'm sure you couldn't find a better new home for them than one of Brian's Humble Bumble homes.
Update: I'm very happy to report that Alicia and her husband, who are sure that the insects nesting in their eves are bumblebees, have decided to put off further construction work until late fall so as not to have to disturb the nest. On behalf of pollinators and pollinator-lovers everywhere, thank you Alicia!
The illustration at the top of this post is courtesy of Dover Publications. It was a free sample from their Full Color Fruit Crate Labels CD-Rom and book.