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bee brick

 
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peebix
New Bee


Joined: 03 Jan 2016
Posts: 5
Location: Switzerland ZH

PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 7:16 pm    Post subject: bee brick Reply with quote

Hello

I am a layman with a question about wild bees (apologies if this does not fit here among beekeeping). I saw a bee brick on sale recently as a den for wild bees, and found also some bee houses for wild bees on Amazon. They all seem quite expensive for what they are. Do forum members have any favourite products (or maybe even instructions for home-made) to provide wild bee habitats? Also is a bee brick going to be okay in a residential area that has trees and vegetation but also people and traffic - how secluded should it be?

Thank you for any help
Paul
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1563
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi and welcome to the forum.

I think the "Bee Bricks" or "Bee Hotels" you are talking about are for solitary bees rather than social bees like honey bees. Providing solitary bees with an habitat is an ideal way of helping pollinators along with planting bee friendly plants.
A bee block/hotel can be made as simply as drilling various sized holes in a block of wood....from 8mm to 4mm and leaving it somewhere sheltered from wind and rain with the block situated so that the drill holes run horizontally. Solitary bees will lay their eggs into the holes and pack them with food for the larvae when they hatch. There are no concerns that I can think of regarding siting them even in the most urban areas as long as there is forage to support the young bees that emerge.

Bumble bees are social bees but live in relatively small colonies compared to honey bees and like to nest below ground usually, with old mouse holes being one of their favourite sites. People are often unaware that they have a bumble bee colony in their garden so they pose very little risk. There are one or two suggestions for making a DIY home for bumble bees. A hole dug in the ground with an upturned plant pot placed in it and some moss in the plant pot. A tube from under the plant pot to the surface acts as an entrance tunnel and the earth filled in around it. Of course there is no guarantee that wild bees will inhabit any of these things and my opinion is that they need time to weather in for a year or so and if a mouse inhabits it in the meantime all the better. Bees seem to find the scent of mouse urine quite attractive when scouting for a new home in my experience.

To be honest. although I live in a rural area I keep my honey bee hives (currently 10 of them) within 15 feet of my back door and this does not pose a problem even though this is my main entry point for the house. I love to be able to look out of the window and see them flying and I would not want to keep them anywhere else even though I have a large garden.

The difficulty with honey bees in urban areas usually arises in swarming season. A colony can produce several swarms of bees each season if left unchecked and these swarms (consisting or 10,000 bees or more) are looking for new homes. In urban areas there are not many hollow trees but lots of chimneys and attics etc which are equally suitable as far as the swarm are concerned but less agreeable to neighbours whose houses they take up residence in. Preventing swarming is not a simple matter, so this can lead the urban honey bee keeper into hot water in their community. As far as I am aware, no other bee swarms like this to reproduce, so if you live in an urban area and are interested in the fate of bees and pollinators in general, planting bee friendly (nectar producing) plants and providing suitable homes for bumble bees and solitary bees is probably a more appropriate route to take. Obviously there will be no honey produced by these bees though.

I hope that provides you with a bit more insight into bees and how best to support them in urban areas.

Best wishes

Barbara
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peebix
New Bee


Joined: 03 Jan 2016
Posts: 5
Location: Switzerland ZH

PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2016 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's really helpful information, thank you Barbara, and thanks for the welcome. Yes I meant solitary bees (I was using wild bees to mean solitary bees, I see now that's not really correct). Thank you for the great information and I am going to try to make at least a small useful place for solitary bees, I will think about having some nearby nectar-producing plants too.

Best wishes
Paul
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Conserving wild bees

Research suggests that bumble bee boxes have a very low success rate in actually attracting bees into them. We find that if you create an environment where first of all you can attract mice inside, such as a pile of stones, a drystone wall, paving slabs with intentionally made cavities underneath, this will increase the success rate.

Most bumble bee species need a dry space about the size a football, with a narrow entrance tunnel approximately 2cm in diameter and 20 cm long. Most species nest underground along the base of a linear feature such as a hedge or wall. Sites need to be sheltered and out of direct sunlight.

There is a spectacular display of wild bee hotels here

More about bumblebees and solitary bees here

Information about the Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum)

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