Healing herbs

Healing herbs
Echinacea and Calendula

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

How To Make A Bee Hotel: A House For Mason Bees And Other Solitary Bees

What are Solitary Bees ?  As well as Bumblebees and Honeybees (that live socially) there are some 200 species of wild bees in the UK that are called 'solitary bees' because they make individual nest cells for their larvae. 

Some species nest in small tunnels or holes in the ground or in sandy banks, piles of sand, or crumbling mortar. Others use the hollow stems of dead plants such as brambles, or tunnels previously bored into dead wood by beetles.

Mason Bees and Leafcutter Bees are well-known examples of solitary bees that are common in gardens.

Some species of solitary bee species will group their nest cells together in aggregations, and a few have evolved social behaviour rather like bumblebees. Many solitary bees are very small and you may not have realised they are bees. All collect nectar and pollen from flowers, except the so-called 'cuckoo' species that lay their eggs in the nest cells of other species.

Solitary bees are harmless and not aggressive. They rarely if ever sting unless trodden on or squashed between your fingers and they do not have painful stings like those of honeybees. They do not live in hives or build honeycombs, and they do not swarm.

If you find them (for example in old house walls) please leave them alone. Colonies are very faithful to their nest sites and may have been living there for many decades. They are part of the 'fine grain' of your local biodiversity - something to be cherished. A number of species are commonly seen in gardens, and they are very useful as they pollinate fruit crops. It is easy for gardeners to encourage them. By drilling holes in dry logs or blocks of wood it is possible to create artificial nesting sites for a number of common species, particularly Mason Bees.

These bee houses are also called 'trap nests', or in America, 'bee condos'. It has become fashionable to call them 'bee hotels' but I feel that this is misleading, as they are not short-term accommodation like a hotel room, they are the bee's permanent home for nine months or more of its short life as it develops from an egg through a larval stage, into adulthood.

No comments:

Post a Comment