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Bee Havens

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Project by justjoel posted 05-20-2014 08:46 PM 4050 views 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

With the reported decline in pollinators – honey bees, monarchs, and likely others – it is important that we do all we can in our own gardens to attract and find homes for these beneficial bugs. I have four “bee condos” in my yard, 3 in the back and one in the front so far. They are usually called “bee hotels,” but I think that’s a misnomer as they stick around much longer than just a night or two. I have a few other project postings with the ones I’ve made before, but I’ve refined them a bit and I made these ones to sell, which they did (also sold a couple of my dibbers).

They were much easier to make this time with my home-made drill press, so I put a lot more holes in each one than I have before, but I kept to the recommended distance between holes of 3/4” on-center, drilling rows of 1/4”, 9/32”, and 5/16” holes – generally just making a bunch of sawdust. Can’t imagine making 9 of these things using just a hand drill, and I indeed made the drill press mainly with these in mind.

There is plenty of research out there about the “Mason” or solitary bee, so if you’d like to make your own, I’d suggest you get-a-Google’n. They use flower petals and mud (thus the “Mason” moniker) to build the layers between the eggs they’ve laid in the holes they find, and add a bit of pollen to feed their babies.

The basics though, if you don’t know:
□ They do not make honey,
□ They are non-aggressive,
□ Tend to stay in or near your yard – only travelling as far as they need to find pollen and building materials, and
□ They are reportedly better or more efficient pollinators than honey bees.

If you have several fruit trees or lots of garden, then the bee hotels you can make or purchase using the straws of bees (which you can purchase with bees in them) are likely better for you than what I’ve done. But if you are just a home gardener like me, these should suit you just fine. And if you can find lumber that you can drill holes in deeper than mine that are just at 3 ½ inches, that would be better according to what I’ve read (I think I’ll make smaller blocks next time, turning the 4×4 lumber on its end and drill deeper – reportedly reaping you more female bees, which do all the work since the males die after “pollinating” the females).

All I know is that the ones I’ve made and have had up for several years get used every season.

Main Project picture explainations – #2 is of the jig I made to help me figure out where to drill, and #6 is of the Seedling Sale this past Saturday at the Great Basin Commuity Food Co-op (Urban Roots let me share their table).

-- "We are stardust. We are golden. And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden." Joni Mitchell



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justjoel

1063 posts in 2096 days
hardiness zone 7a

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7 comments so far

View Tony 's profile

Tony

90 posts in 700 days
hardiness zone 9a

posted 05-21-2014 03:33 AM

What a great post Joel! I learned so much reading your post here. I have plenty of wood in my shop so thanks for the inspiration. I’m going to make a few Hotels for our yard, We really need them. I have only seen one bumble bee so far this year.
Love your drill press, nice work on that too!

-- Type-0's are normal for me! St Augustine Florida

View justjoel's profile

justjoel

1063 posts in 2096 days
hardiness zone 7a

posted 05-21-2014 08:08 AM

Thanks, Tony.

If you build them, they will come. ;-)

-- "We are stardust. We are golden. And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden." Joni Mitchell

View justjoel's profile

justjoel

1063 posts in 2096 days
hardiness zone 7a

posted 05-21-2014 01:28 PM

I actually made a short video about the drill press and posted it on Youtube, as that is where I got the ideas and suggestions on how to make mine, so thought I should pay back. First time I’ve ever done anything like that (and it’s obvious). Anyway, if interested, here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gp8cpLsSk8M

I believe I even mention GardenTenders in the video. :-)

-- "We are stardust. We are golden. And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden." Joni Mitchell

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14688 posts in 2715 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 05-21-2014 01:31 PM

this is fantastic!

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View Iris43's profile

Iris43

3811 posts in 2345 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 05-22-2014 07:16 AM

Joel, your talents never cease to amaze me. I love the look of your bee hotels/havens.

Like Tony, I learned a lot from your post. Thank you for helping our struggling pollinators. Every year I see fewer honey bees in my gardens. It really worries me. Last year, if it wasn’t for the bumble bees very little pollinating would have gotten done. I think I need to get a few havens too.

-- 'To plant a Garden is to believe in Tomorrow'

View kindman's profile

kindman

29 posts in 268 days
hardiness zone 7a

posted 06-09-2014 07:22 PM

Wow, Joel:

I love these. Thanks for a GREAT idea.

Kindman

-- Kindman in Rhode Island

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4307 posts in 1978 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 06-13-2014 05:27 AM

I always appreciate your creative projects, Joel. Beautiful.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

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