|Project by justjoel||posted 05-20-2014 08:46 PM||5518 views||1 time favorited||7 comments|
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