Last year I meant to put up a nesting structure of some kind for solitary bees but never got around to it. This week I remembered I should be getting something ready so it could be in place this spring when the bees are looking for a place to lay their eggs so I got to work. I had been planning on making one that consists of a wooden block or log with holes drilled in it. Then I started seeing different kinds that were bundles of bamboo and decided I would attempt one of those instead. Looking around and doing more reading I also learned that the hollow stems of plants that have died back for the winter can be used, too.* So it was that I found myself wading around in the snow in the yard with my pruners. I hope the neighbors didn’t see me clipping off anything that was still standing, peering at the cut end and dropping it before moving on to the next plant. In the end the only thing I found that might be suitable was the stems of turtlehead (Chelone lyonii.) The pithy hosta stems were especially disappointing because I’ve got so many of them.
So far I’ve got, from left to right, some black bamboo, the turtlehead and a golden bamboo—I used to have some bamboo plants and now I’m wishing I’d kept more of the canes! There is quite a range of cavity sizes from the 3/32” minimum I saw one site recommend on up to about 1/4”. The lengths are what they are and may not be ideal as the block-drilling instructions indicate. I just cut everything so it would have a node near the end to block it off. I’m going to try to get out to some other places to forage for appropriate stems before winter is over, too.
I’m excited to see if I can attract any little bees to whatever makeshift housing I build for them. Between these, the birdhouse I plan to deploy for bumblebees and the prospect of a honeybee hive surviving the winter it looks like 2014 is going to be an interesting year.
Have you put out nesting sites for bees like this? I’d be interested in hearing about how they worked for you.
* I probably read about it at Honey Bee Suite. Rusty writes about other bees as well as the honeys and if you haven’t already checked out her web site you really should.