Why Have A Bee House In Your Garden?
By placing a bee house near nectar rich plants we can easily experience the benefit of having bee's in our garden and at the same time help them. Pollination is vital to plant life and bee's are very industrious pollinators.
This following point can't be emphasized enough and if we keep this in mind then bee's will be attracted to our garden.
We need to establish a good food supply first!
Then site a nesting box for bee's.
Wildflowers and flowers that are found in the traditional
cottage garden are an excellent food source for bee's.
This will not only attract them but also ensure they
have access to an adequate supply of nectar and pollen.
It would be a shame to have a 5 star bee hotel with no Bee's in it because the restaurant is not up to scratch! The type of bee house we use will depend on what Bee's we want to attract to our garden.
A solitary bee lives up to it's name as it does
not swarm or have a communal nest.
Its the female that does all the work once having mated and here's where we can help out by providing a simple nesting box for her to lay her eggs in.
This is as Low Tech as we can get in making a bee house.
It can either be a log that is approximately 150-200mm in diameter and 200mm to 300mm long or an offcut of untreated wood of similar dimensions.
Then we simply drill 5-10mm diameter holes into the log as deep as we can without going right through the wood.
Its in these holes that the female solitary bee lays her eggs
and also stores pollen as food for her young when they hatch.
While busying herself collecting this pollen she pollinates the flowers in our garden in the process.
This simple design suits many solitary bee's and has been described as the mason bee house by suppliers because mason bee's take to them very well.
There are other designs that use tubes of various diameters strapped together which the solitary bee uses to lay her eggs.
And for the price asked they are worth considering.
Bumble Bee Nest Box
A bumble bee nest box is a bit more involved and requires
a permanent siting as these are used used each year.
The bumble bee nests underground and in a natural
setting they search hedgerows as well as embankments.
Any similar habitats in our garden that allows a bee house to be sited and seemingly allow access to underground would help the bumble bee in its search for a cosy place to nest.
An upside down clay plant pot 200mm diameter
has been suggested as a home made option.
A flat stone or tile can be used to cover up the drainage hole
to keep out water but raised slightly to allow ventilation.
Then providing access via a 22mm stiff flexible pipe about 300-500mm long. This is then buried with the entrance lower than the nest area inside the plant pot, this protects the nest from surface water.
A short piece of 22mm copper pipe taped to the end will dissuade snails from blocking the pipe as they do not like touching copper. Be sure to remove any burrs.
The entrance needs to be easily found by the bee.
An added feature of using some folded over chicken wire to raise the bedding off the floor will once again help keep the nesting area dry.
The bumble bee can make a very cosy nest with Hamster bedding mixed with dry straw, this will need to be laid on
top of the chicken wire.
The alternative to this is to purchase a purpose made
bee house and then siting it as mentioned above.
Bumble Bee House
These boxes can be placed on a raised bed, then we
can site the entrance as described above.
We most likely will have to add the flexible tube feature, not forgetting the snail dissuader, which may increase our chances of success in bee's using the nesting box. A bumble bee house has a nice ring to it and if occupied a buzz along with it.
The success rate of a bee house in attracting bumble bee's
to nest in them is still a bit of an unknown quantity.
For this reason The Bumble Bee Conservation Trust is conducting a survey to see how successful commercial
bee houses are proving to be.
Whether yours is home made or bought they would
like to hear about the results you have experienced.
Their website really is worth visiting.
The Bumble Bee Conservation Trust has a clear objective in helping the bumble bee survive the increasing loss of it's natural habitats and food sources.
They make it clear that making a difference is attainable by taking some simple steps in our gardens without it having
to be an expensive, time consuming project.
Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder
When producing food on a commercial scale, many
of the crops are highly dependent on the honey bee.
In recent years Bee keepers hives have been devastated
by what has been described as the colony collapse disorder.
Simply put the Hive is abandoned.
Some have reasoned that the colony may have gone through a period of extraordinary stress possibly linked to poor nutrition and drought.
A lot of time and money is going into trying to solve this problem. Even from a layman's position it doesn't take much research and thinking to realize how worrying this development is and how urgent it is that a remedy is found.
The everyday ordinary person, like myself, most likely would not know where to start in trying to solving this problem.
As with a lot of things we are best focusing on what we can do, a few simple steps to take are to provide food for Bee's in our gardens by growing nectar rich flowers and plants.
Then we may also choose to provide a bee house to help
the various types of Bee's that we attract to our garden.
We all need pollinators in our gardens, attracting bee's and other pollinators such as hoverflies is an obvious and very simple way to ensure our garden plants get pollinated.
One Bee keeper did report that even though his Bee Hives had suffered considerably from colony collapse disorder the farm crops around him were still pollinated, obviously other pollinators fulfilled the role.
Wildlife friendly gardens that are attracting and feeding these various pollinators are helping in more ways than they think.