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Old 04-07-2009, 02:03 PM   #1
A Bee's Best Friend
 
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Default Bee nesting as important as netar and pollen.

Well that should be nectar and pollen.

I think all bees are pretty impressive and once thought about trying to keep a honey bee hive. With interest in gardening and wildlife came information about native solitary bees and native bumble bees. It wasn't long before the entire garden was put to the task of becoming a bee reserve of sorts. All other creatures are welcome but it is the bees that have captured my interest (Typically human reasoning).

According to Stephen Buchmann of 'The Forgotten Pollinators'
while nectar and pollen sources are important to all bees what determines the number of bees in an area is the diversity of nesting sites.

http://www.enature.com/articles/detail.asp?storyID=641

The USDA seems to be in agreement.

http://plants.usda.gov/pollinators/Enhancing_Nest_Sites_For_Native_Bee_Crop_Pollinato rs.pdf

Quote:
Protect grassy thickets, or other areas of dense,
low cover from mowing or other disturbance.
These are the sites where bumble bees might find the nest cavities they need,
not to mention biennial or perennial forbs that can provide significant food resources
Quote:
Wherever possible, avoid turning over soil. Bees need stable soil,
and their progeny spend up to eleven months of the year underground.
The more surface area left untilled, the more likely bees will find and colonize appropriate nest sites
Quote:
Clear some of the vegetation from a gently sloping or flat area.
The goal is to remove thatch, making it easier for bees to access the soil below
but still leaving some clumps of grass or other low-growing plants to prevent erosion.
The site should be well drained, in an open, sunny place, and, preferably, on a south-facing slope.
Different ground conditions from vertical banks to flat ground will draw different bee species,
so create a variety of partially bare patches and observe which ones best attract ground-nesting bees
Quote:
bumble bees often occupy the grassy interface between open fields and hedgerows or woods.
This has been attributed to the presence of abandoned rodent nests in which bumble bees nest.
Areas of habitat suitable for bumble bees should include a mix of native grasses and forbs abutting shrubs or trees.
The grass area needs to be at least five feet wide and mowed only every two or three years.
Always mow in the late fall or winter, after the colonies have died for the year and when queens are dormant.
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Old 04-07-2009, 07:05 PM   #2
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We seem to know so little about our native pollinators; and yet they are so important to us. Native pollinators, especially bees, are much more important to our gardens and landscapes than honeybees. The vast majority of our fruits, vegetables and flowers are pollinated by native bees. The wild honeybee population is virtually gone. The vast majority of honeybee pollination is done by commercial bee keepers on huge agricultural farms/plantations.

We need to learn a lot more about taking care of our native bees. As you pointed out, it is reasonably easy to provide for their nectar and pollen needs. But we need to get much better at providing for their other needs, especially nesting resources.

The other big issue in taking care of our native pollinators is to stop using chemicals that are toxic to bees.
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Old 04-07-2009, 07:44 PM   #3
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Bee nesting blocks with various size holes is another good way to provide nesting sites for some types of native bees. Even drilling holes in dead trees and posts (untreated type) would be helpful.
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Old 04-08-2009, 09:27 PM   #4
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Drilling holes in dead trees is a really good idea.

editing to add-
Stephen Buchmann's book 'The Forgotten Pollinators' is excellent. Have you read the Plant-Pollinator Interactions or the Pollinator Conservation Handbook?
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Old 04-11-2009, 11:56 PM   #5
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I followed this link on Gloria's blog (Pollinators welcome in a habitat garden)
It shows some remarkable nesting facilities for native bees:
Translated version of http://www.wildbienen.de/wbs-bsta.htm

One of these would be a great demonstration for any botanical garden, community garden or nature preserve. Really nice find Gloria. I've got to seriously think about making one of these for our local Master Gardener's demonstration gardens.
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Old 04-12-2009, 12:43 AM   #6
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That's the coolest thing I've seen in months. It easily could be scaled down a little for a backyard - I want one too!
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Old 04-12-2009, 10:23 PM   #7
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Here is a link to a smaller version on flicker that some one built in their home garden.
Bee Hotel on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
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Old 04-13-2009, 06:59 PM   #8
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Cool. That's habitat and abstract art.
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