That’s something I wanted to do for long. Build a little bee “house”. Whenever I spend some time reading on one of the benches, there’s tireless buzzing in the air. I always thought it mainly came from honeybees, until I started to spend some close attention.
There are a lot of different bumblebees in the garden (I am not sure were they have there caves). This time of the year, I leave for them the nettles (which actually are quite pretty plants, fresh green and with bright pink flowers). The bumblebees are mad about them.
A really impressive creature is the violet carpenter bee (Xylocopa violacea). It seems it is making use of the old tree trunks I left to rot under some of the bushes (a large woodpecker also spends the occasional visit there).
I don’t remove the small wasp nests, which appear every year under some of the roof tiles – they don’t become bothersome.
Most of the bees, however, seem to belong to one of the many species of solitary bees. No idea where they come from. They are here on and off. Some have red socks, some are cutting precise patterns into the leaves of the rose shrubs. Some seem to inspect every tiny hole in the house wall (not that there are that many). So I got the idea to give them a home.
I heard that deep holes in hardwood are quite ideal. Since I had some solid oak blocks in storage, I started to drill ahead. Diameters range from 3mm to 9mm. I tried to make the drillings as smooth as possible, and gave the edges some sanding.
Looks like a house (blue roof optional):
I made two that way. I also got one from a shop, sold as an “insect hotel”, which was totally dysfunctional, because it was empty inside. (I only saw that when some sunlight was shining in). A bee house simulation. I opened it and filled it with branch trimmings from the Catalpa tree, which I hollowed out on one side.
The three of them got a place under the big silver fir, facing South East, so there´s sunlight most of the day (except during midday heat), while rain rarely reaches that spot. (Btw., now that I´m giving it attention – I had two mason bees nesting in deep screw holes on the Northern side of the shed, so there´s that. It seems “mild and protected against the elements” is more important to insects than direct sun.)
Already in early April, the first occupant had secretly claimed one of the apartments:
Now, on sunny days, it is really quite busy:
Even the one which needed “customization” gets visited often (if the Catalpa cuttings are working the way they are supposed to I can´t say yet):
The larger holes are preferred by most bees, after all, even by the smaller ones. I will take that in consideration when I prepare the next:
Update: It´s worth providing a small pot with moist clay directly next to it – since I did that more holes got properly closed:
Now the place starts getting that bee-hive sensation, plenty of flying and buzzing going on:
Success! By May 14 the mason bees have closed most nest cells with mud: