Much of what we read about bees refers to honey bees. However there are thousands of species of wild bees as well. These are mostly solitary bees, where every female lays eggs, rather than just the one queen, as is the case in honey bee colonies.
I recently attended a class on creating habitat for wild bees, specifically cavity nesting bees. About 70% of wild bees nest in the ground and very little is known about these bees scientifically, according to the speaker. However, scientists know more about cavity nesting bees and this was the focus. These are bees that nest in hollow shapes, such as reeds, hollowed stems or holes in wood. There are several kinds of cavity nesting bees, including mason bees that pack their nests with mud and leaf cutters that use pieces of leaves to wrap their cocoons. Loss of available habitat is one of the challenges these bees face and it is an area where humans can actually help. There are a few ways we can help by restoring natural habitat or providing new habitat, that we create.
How to help create habitat for cavity nesting bees
As part of the class I went to, I was provided with two bee nesting boxes (pollinator
‘mailboxes’) made from milk cartons and paper tubes. In exchange, I will participate in a citizen science initiative to help track the kinds of cavity nesting bees we’re seeing in our region, around Seattle in the Pacific Northwest. The nesting boxes have a variety of sizes of tubes in order to attract a variety of bees. It wouldn’t be difficult to make these yourself out of painted milk cartons, paper tubes and a way to stand it off the ground. However, if you’re not up for a project, it’s so easy to get a kit. Here’s where I talk about my first mason bee house. There are some great kits that are ready to go and you can either see who may show up or actually get some bees as well.
There are two ways to provide habitat to help welcome wild bees in your yard or garden: Continue reading Creating Habitat for Wild Bees
The starter kit for Leafcutter bees from Crown Bees is called Beehaven and is a super inexpensive way to give raising native bees a try. It is the cheapest kit on their site at only 24.95. This includes a small bee house, paper tubes for the bees to nest in and 30 actual leafcutter bee cocoons. The kit comes with a certificate that you can redeem on the website to get your bees shipped to you when you want them and when they will thrive in your area. As I talked about last time, Leafcutter bees need quite warm weather.
The Beehaven kit is very easy to mount. It is plastic and shaped like a miniature mailbox. The kit also comes with several tubes for the bees to nest in. The instructions suggest putting the bees inside the house with the cloth bag open when you first set it up. However this house is so TINY, that there wasn’t room for all the tubes and the bag on top. I ended up taking out a few of the tubes and sort of shoving the bee bag in. I (hopefully) didn’t squash any of the bees, as most cocoons were empty after about a week. Continue reading Review: Crown Bees Bee Haven Starter Kit for Leafcutter Bees
What better way to learn about honey bees than by watching movies? Luckily there are quite a few very good documentaries about the bees. When I first became excited to learn all I could I hit the library and checked out the entire row of books dedicated to bees and beekeeping, as I talked about here. I learned a lot from the books, but I ran out of time and several went back to the library barely skimmed.
Watching a movie is just plain old fun, even when you’re learning about a complex subject. These three films are about much more than just bee anatomy, beekeeping and honey. Since honey bees and entire beehives began dying and disappearing about a decade ago, what is now called Colony Collapse Disorder, anyone involved in beekeeping or concerned with our planet has been on a serious mission to get to the bottom of this alarming situation. These three films are no exception. Each one takes a slightly different approach, but all have similar aims of educating us about what is going on and what can be done to make it better. Spoiler alert: Human’s are at fault. It’s actually more intense than you might imagine, going into this world of interaction between us and honeybees. But hopefully you will come away with a better understanding of the state of things, the issues we are currently facing, and possibly an interest in getting involved on your own
Queen of The Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us?
My favorite of these three is Queen of The Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us? directed by Taggart Siegel. It is actually free to watch on Amazon Prime, if you have that. All of these films can most likely be found at your local library as well. This is a fascinating journey into what has caused Colony Collapse Disorder. We get to hear from many beekeepers and scientists at the forefront of this worldwide crisis best natural weight loss supplements. We see organic beekeepers in France, Germany, Australia and the US and hear their differing opinions and relationships to bees.
We see how very recent human intervention through mechanisation, monoculture and chemical products may be forever changing the viability of bees. Continue reading 3 Movies about Honey Bees: A Fun Way to Learn About Bees
PRODUCT: BOTANICAL INTERESTS SEEDS
PRICE: 2.99 – 18.99.
ABOUT: Botanical Interests is a seed company with a huge selection, including many organic and heirloom varieties. Their seeds are non-GMO and high quality. Each seed package has detailed growing information, so everything you’ll need is right there. Their website is easy to use and you can search by seeds that attract bees or butterflies or by many other search options.
PROS: HUGE selection, non-GMO, beautiful and informative packaging, great prices, search terms include ‘attracting bees’, free shipping if you meet the purchase requirements.
CONS: Huge selection can be overwhelming to shop if you don’t know what you’re looking for, only two products that specifically mention bees, not all are certified organic, need to enter payment info if a first time shopper.
Bee Happy Seed Collection
This collection of 6 different seed packets is created to appeal to our native bees. It includes annuals and perennials in a variety of colors and sizes. A curated mix like this is a great and easy way to start if you don’t have specific flowers in mind, but want to attract pollinators to your garden.
An even simpler option is their packet of flower mix called Save the Bees Seeds. This mix is designed to bloom from Spring to frost and covers 60 square feet. Continue reading Product Review: Botanical Interests Best Seeds for Pollinators
PRODUCT: Mason Bee House
I got this simple bamboo mason bee house for my daughter last year. I chose this one because it had a nice modern look, and was made from bamboo. It was also one of the least expensive I saw. I thought it would be a great way to learn about bees and attract them to our yard. I have learned a lot since buying this house a year ago. See this post about getting my first bees and how I had to rig this house to make it safe and functional by basically taking it completely apart. I recommend looking at the mason bee houses and supplies at Crown Bees, where I got my mason bees, if you are looking for a bee house.
Mason bees are non-agressive, native bees that lay their eggs in narrow passages, like those in the bee house. Unlike honey bees, they are solitary bees. The females make their own nests and there are no worker bees. They lay their eggs in hollowed tubular shapes, such as hollow reeds or holes in wood. When a nest is filled with eggs, they plug the end and move on to find the next nest great post to read.
These mason bee houses and others like them provide lots of tube shaped spaces for bees to create nests and lay their eggs. If it looks plugged up with mud or something pasty you’ll know it is filled with eggs. So far in ours, none of the tubes are filled. I’m not sure if we just don’t have mason bees around here or if they have plenty of other spaces nearby in which to lay their eggs. Continue reading Product Review: Bamboo Mason Bee House