Thursday, January 1, 2015
BUILDING BEE NEST BOXES
Helping to make a pollinator paradise
Pollinators such as bees can thrive in urban environments, particularly when we incorporate their habitat needs into our gardens. This can be as simple as adding native wildflowers to the garden, or can involve creating pollinator habitats in city parks. Not using chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides is also important.
Pollinators need a variety of flowering plants throughout the spring, summer and fall, nesting sites and a water source.
Pollinator Plant page to learn more about native pollinator-friendly plants.
Bees and other pollinators cannot use a conventional bird bath. Instead, line a shallow pan with rocks or marbles and regularly add fresh water.
Many of Ontario's native bees are ground nesters and need un-mulched or bare patches of the garden. Leaving a pile of sticks in the back of the garden, not 'cleaning' the garden in the fall is beneficial for nesting and overwintering pollinators which depend on standing, dead stalks (ex. raspberry) to survive the winter.
Many species of bees will make use of nesting structures such as Bee Nest Boxes, described below.
What is a Bee Nest Box?
A Bee Nest Box is similar to a bird house, except for native species of bees, some of our key pollinators. We depend on pollinators for 1 out of every 3 bites of food we eat. They are critical for the reproduction of 75-90% of all flowering plants but their populations are rapidly declining from habitat loss, toxins, pesticides and disease.
Hamilton Naturalists' Club and Environment Hamilton are helping pollinators across Hamilton by planting native plants that flower from spring to fall, providing food and nesting habitat. We are also hosting workshops helping Hamiltonians to build bee nest boxes which will provide habitat for bees. Contact us for details about the next workshop!
Almost 1/3 of native bees nest in hollow stemmed plants. The female will build a "room" for an egg, complete with pollen and nectar. She seals off the "room" and then starts another one, continuing until the end of the stem. When the eggs hatch they will eat the pollen supply and then overwinter in their "room", emerging from the stem the next spring.
The bee nests provide habitat, but it is also important to have food nearby. Planting native plants that flower from spring to fall will provide food for the bees and other pollinators, and will also make an attractive and low maintenance garden.
By creating nesting habitat, and planting native wildflowers, Hamilton will be creating a paradise for pollinators!