Enhance Your Garden With Bee-utiful Bee Houses

Enhance Your Garden With Bee-utiful Bee Houses

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Plenty of backyards are doubling as an attractive bed-and-breakfast. For bees. Specifically, native solitary bees that fly solo and don’t reside in hives.

After a productive day quietly flitting round flowers, savoring nectar, and performing a necessary ecological service, these valuable pollinators admire a pleasant place to calm down. Maybe lay eggs.

Some considerate persons are pleased to hook them up with lodging — a straightforward method to assist out the bee inhabitants.

Bee Houses

Especially in areas the place pure nesting websites are restricted, synthetic likenesses of pure websites are undoubtedly alluring to bugs looking for shelter.

“Bee homes present the often-missing part of what the bees want — nesting websites,” says Matthew Shepherd, communications director for the Xerces Society, a nonprofit group that focuses on defending invertebrates and their habitats. “When you present flowers and nest websites, you’ll get extra bees.”

For varied solitary species, supreme dwellings are teeny tunnels, corresponding to hole plant stems. Or crevices in bushes.

Bee homes, whether or not store-bought or home made, mimic that individual residential choice. The homes, which operate extra like condos, often embrace a set of hole lengths, every supposed for a single resident to deposit her eggs.

Blue orchard bee sealing her nest
Blue orchard bee sealing her nest in a bamboo bee home. Photo: Mace Vaughan, The Xerces Society

As they do of their pure habitat, occupants usually improve their dwelling utilizing mud and leaf items, and type divided areas for his or her offspring.

Depending on the species you’re attracting, supreme diameters for particular person tunnels vary from about 3/32 inch to three/8 inch, with lengths from about 4 inches to six inches, Shepherd says.

With such petite dimensions, bee homes pack a number of punch in a comparatively small house. For instance, a hexagonal Mason Bee House that sells for about $20 on Amazon options about 60 nesting tubes inside a construction measuring solely 4.13 x 6.89 x 7.87 inches, in keeping with the outline.

Bee homes usually are considered worthwhile for rounding out a pollinator garden. When paired, flowers and bees profit one another.

Leafcutting bee collecting pollinating flower
Leafcutting bee accumulating pollen. Photo: Anthony Colangelo of Pollinator Partnership

Best Locations for Bee Houses

“In order to draw bees to your panorama, bee homes must be positioned close to a backyard or blooming flowers to extend the probabilities of getting used,” says Anthony Colangelo, pollinator stewardship and communications coordinator for Pollinator Partnership, a nonprofit group working to guard pollinators and their habitat. “Bee homes must be positioned a minimum of one meter off the bottom and secured to a publish or wall. They must also be positioned in a spot that receives an excellent quantity of daylight in order that the bees obtain sufficient warmth to heat their wing muscle tissues with a view to take flight and go to flowers.”

Xerces Society additionally affords recommendations for setting up bee houses.

“These nests must be positioned the place they’re sheltered from the worst of the climate, with entrance holes going through in direction of east or southeast, so that they get the morning solar. With stem bundles, ensure that the stems are horizontal. The nests will be any top from the bottom, however between three and 6 ft is handy. Put them on a constructing, fence, or stake, or place them in a tree. Fix them firmly so that they don’t shake within the wind.”

Please be sure you avoid using pesticides in your backyard to keep away from harming your useful new pollinators.

Blue orchard bee in a wooden bee house
Blue orchard bee in a picket bee home. Photo: Eric Lee-Mäder, The Xerces Society

DIY Versions

Do-it-yourself bee homes are comparatively easy. You could make them by creating bee-sized tunnels in blocks of preservative-free wooden. Or by grouping bundles of bamboo. Or by drilling holes in a log. Here are just a few assets that can assist you make your individual:

Natural Habit Works Well, Too

While bee homes are useful, it’s additionally a good suggestion to offer pure nesting alternatives.

“The greatest option to assist bees and different vital pollinators is to plant native habitat, with a wide range of blooming flowers which give bees with nutritious nectar and pollen, in addition to pithy-stemmed vegetation which naturally present hole twigs and stems that solitary bees can nest in, Colangelo says.

Shepard recommends offering a fats department, a minimum of 8 to 10 inches in diameter, or a size of tree trunk from a tree service, “planted” like a fence publish. Bee-friendly vegetation with pithy or hole stems embrace elderberry, sumac, raspberry, and cup plant.

broken raspberry stem hosts a bee nest
A damaged raspberry stem hosts a bee nest. Photo: Jennifer Hopwood, The Xerces Society

Fun to Watch

In your function as innkeeper for bees, you’ll be rewarded with a novel actuality present.

Shepherd says he enjoys pulling up a seat and watching bees fly out and in of the bee home. Sometimes, relying on what they’re doing, they again into their nest.

“If you might have a wide range of gap diameters, you’ll be rewarded with a wide range of bees, together with mason bees and leafcutters — and there are a number of species of every, so that you’ll see the completely different colours and sizes,” he says. “While the bee is engaged on a nest, you’ll see the supplies she brings [to] type the dividing partitions: a ball of mud by mason bees, neatly reduce leaf piece held between the legs of a leafcutter, a ball of fuzz carried by carder bees.”

Editor’s word: For extra details about managing solitary nesting bees, Matthew Shepherd of Xerces Society suggests the free obtain, Managing Alternative Pollinators, revealed by Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education.

Originally revealed on August 12, 2019, this text was up to date in July 2022.