Most of our plants need pollinators to set seed and give fruit. Bees are the best. The more bees we have in the garden, the more tomatos and cucumbers and plums we get.
One way of getting more bees in the gardens is of course to set down a bee-hive and bring in the Honey Bee – Apis millifera – who will both pollinate and give us honey. Goran grew up in an apiary family, so he knows how much maintenance is needed…
Another way is to invite wild solitary bees of various species. The best pollinators are the “Mason Bees”, who lay their eggs in hollow tubes and cover the opening with clay. Most of the wild bees have a tough time these days with loss of habitat and profuse use of insecticides. Therefore it is good to make the garden more bee-friendly and here is one easy-to-do-at-home project:
The Bee Hotel – A Home for Solitary Mason Bees
There are many different kinds of bee hotels, mainly in two categories: Hollow stems or Drilled Holes. This excellent guide with more information about bee hotels was written by Marc Carlton, and we used his advice to build a number of bee hotels for our garden.
The easiest to make for us was “Bamboo Paradise”, since we have plenty of bamboo growing in our garden. We cut 15 pieces of 15 cm, and tied with a piece of string. We used a sand paper to make the openings smooth, which is supposed to make it easier for the bee mother to get in and lay the eggs.
After three weeks in the garden, four of the rooms have been taken. The openings have been covered by a plug of clay, which indicates that a bee has been there and deposited eggs and given them protection.
If everything goes well, the new bees will come out next spring and lay new eggs. And pollinate our garden!
Update on 5 May 2013:
Today a mother bee is laying eggs inside one of the drilled-woodblock-beehotels, see picture.