We spend a lot of time talking about honeybees because we love them.
There are many other types of bees, too, and we love them all.
Today we’ll consider the solitary little bees of various shapes and sizes that are likely to pollinate the flowers and vegetables in your garden, including mason bees, carder bees and leafcutters.
Unlike the honeybee, these native bees are loners that don’t usually live in beehive communities. They can be enticed to live in your garden, if you put some signals out there to invite them in.
Have you ever considered adding a bee home to your back yard? It can be a variety of structures from natural fallen tree branches or limbs to condo-style housing bought at a store. The nest cavity should be 4-5 inches deep and no more than 1/2” around so it is snug.
While these bees don’t suffer from the intense plight the honeybee struggles with every day, they face hazards, too. They buzz around your garden, enjoying the rich nectar from your flowers and pollinating your plants so there will be an abundance of new growth. By the end of the day, they are tired of foraging and look for a quiet place to rest.
This is where you come in, and you should keep in mind that the more inviting your garden is, the more bees you will see buzzing around and the more flowers you will have. You can provide a nesting location for these humble bees.
You may already have resident bees in your garden because they burrow and snuggle into hollow tunnel-like plant stems and branches or squeeze into cracks and crevices in the bark.
Solitary bees are easy to please, whether you offer them natural or artificial houses. They seem thankful for the cozy shelter, so go with your style and budget.
Craft something yourself if you enjoy this sort of project or buy a move-in-ready bee home in a store or online. A solitary bee will reside alone in her new home and if she feels it is secure, will section off spaces where she can lay each of her eggs. She may “furnish” her new home with leaves, mud and tiny sticks.
If you buy a ready-made bee condo, these can look very pretty in your garden. Add a wind chime and a small fountain, and your garden is now a serene and enchanted haven as bees and butterflies flutter on the gentle breeze that carries the wafting aroma of flowers.
Your bee house should not be blowing in the breeze, however. Secure it to a fence or in tree so it is protected from extreme weather. Make sure it is elevated about 3-5 feet off the ground. It should face east or southeast for morning warmth as the sun rises and to enjoy plenty of sunlight. The bees need a clear flight path in and out for frequent flyer pollinating trips.
The following video is 4:45 minutes long and gives plenty of helpful information and tips.
You can pull together a fine natural bee house by bundling a bunch of hollow stems of different sizes together, or by drilling a nice hole into a block of untreated wood. Turn a fallen log or tree stump into a solid bee home by drilling holes in them.
You may prefer to arrange natural housing opportunities for your garden bees. Plant plenty of pollen and nectar producing blooming flowers that are native to your locality. Add such hollow-stemmed plants as raspberry, elderberry and sumac, because bees can burrow into their hollow stems to nest.
You have created your enchanted garden, a tranquil paradise for the bees and for you. Now it’s time to relax and enjoy watching the antics of these precious pollinators as they buzz around making bee magic. Smile and feel good because you took action and are making a positive difference.
Do you have a bee condo in your garden? Did you buy it or do it yourself? Share tips with the rest of us over on our Facebook page!