Favorite Tools

Favorite Tools

Saturday, April 29, 2017

NATIVE SOLITARY BEES


We have bee action at the Insect Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky! The queen in the picture above is laying eggs in her nest. Unable to make a positive ID from peering at her down the dark hole with a flashlight, my assumption is that this is a carpenter bee, given the mandible shape and general all-over fuzziness.

The gardens at the Nature Center provide pollen and nectar and the bees, messy little pollinators that they are, give back by cross-pollinating flower gardens, vegetable gardens, trees and orchards, both at the nature center and in the surrounding community.

The Nature Center hotel was established by a Boy Scout troup a few years ago and has been successfully provided homes for insects and native bees. Weather and the elements have caused some settling of the materials and so a renovation is in order.

Insect Hotel - Louisville, Kentucky
Materials gathered for the upcoming renovation include: bark, pine needles, pine cones, and logs. I am currently cutting logs and drilling the preferred size holes for solitary bees to nest in. Add a few canes to the collection and I'll be ready to update the hotel habitat. My goal is to create as much bee habitat as possible.

Slabs of bark, pine cones, and pine needles - almost ready!
Blue Orchard Mason Bees and Alfalfa Leafcutter Bees, among many others, are fascinating to watch and can be easily assisted by providing simple habitat. They are gentle bees and rarely sting (unless squished, of course) and there is so much to learn, I have only just begun to scratch the surface. Did you know that you can harvest their cocoons, store them over winter, and then hatch them in the Spring? This is definitely on my "To Do" list! I feel a presentation coming on!

The queen shown at the top of this blog has her nest in one of these logs
Mason bees plug their nests with mud
As I explore their world to learn more, I will be writing about the different types of bees, their nesting habits, cocoon harvesting and suggestions for providing homes and other necessary supplies, such as flowers and mud. Keep your eyes peeled for native bees and you will begin to see their diversity. 

I welcome you to journey along with me as I learn and share information about these gentle, vital creatures. Feel free to ask any questions or leave comments, I would love to hear from you. 

Happy bee watching! 

No comments:

Post a Comment