Build a Solitary Bee Nest Using Recycled Materials

Native bees are important pollinators. Some native bees, like leaf cutter bees and mason bees, nest in hollow plant stems.  You can help native solitary bees by providing a man-made bee nest. The kids that attended my Clover College workshop last week made these bee nests. They had a fun time and this would be easy for your family to make for Pollinator Week.

Supplies

1 ¾ inch plastic lid from juice container

Paper towel tube cut to 7 inches in length (we use the tube from automated paper towel dispensers) If you use a regular sized paper towel tube, the plastic juice container lid will need to be 1 ½ inches.

Paper drinking straws cut to 6 inches in length

Mason bee tubes (optional)

Duct tape

Zip ties or twine

supplies

Bee Nest supplies: paper towel tube, plastic lid, paper straws and duct tape.

Instructions

Push the juice container lid into the cut end of the paper towel tube.  It should fit snuggly. The nesting tube needs to have one end closed off or the bees will not be able to nest in the tube.

Place the paper straws and/or mason bee tubes in the paper towel tube and push them back so they are snug against the juice lid. Place enough paper straws inside until they are snug and will not fall out.

top

Paper straws inserted into paper towel tube and pushed snug to the back.

Cover the outside of the paper towel tube with duct tape.  This will help keep the bee nest water proof and last longer.

Place your bee nest outside in your landscape with the nest positioned horizontally.  The opening should face south or southeast. Put the nest approximately 2-4 feet above the ground. Use two zip ties or twine to attach the bee nest to a post or fence. You could also attach it to a building, tree or large shrub. Wherever you place the bee nest, make sure it is securely attached and level.

post

Place your bee nest outside in your landscape with the nest positioned horizontally. The opening should face south or southeast.

Female native solitary bees will nest in the bee tube during the spring and summer.  The immature bees will over winter in the tube and emerge as adults next spring. Leave the bee nest in place for approximately two years.  Replace the bee nest when all the bees have emerged.

MJ Frogge

Master Gardener Lunch & Learn

Today the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat hosted a Master Gardener Lunch & Learn.  Master Gardeners brought their lunch, toured the habitat and learn more about our bee structures and plant selection for pollinators.  They constructed a solitary bee nest to place in their home landscape next year from recycled and repurposed items. Master Gardeners also made nature journals and spent time in the pollinator habitat observing nature.  The Cherry Creek Habitat is the perfect place to lunch and learn.

MJ

Master Gardeners make solitary bee nests.

Master Gardeners make solitary bee nests.

naturejournal4

MG Lunch & Learn - 09

4-H Youth and Habitat Discovery

This morning Soni and I taught 4-H youth about pollinators in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. All week our office is hosting Clover College. For our Habitat Discovery session, youth did nature journaling, planted native plants in the habitat, planted sunflower seeds, installed a bee water source and made bee nesting tubes bundles for the bee nest box structure and insect hotel. At the end of the session the youth made nature journals and took home their own bee nest box to put in their landscape. Spending time educating youth about pollinators was a great way to finish Pollinator Week!

MJ

Youth journaling in habitat.

Youth journaling in habitat.

Boys on new bench in habitat.

Boys on new bench in habitat.

Nature journaling in habitat.

Nature journaling in habitat.

Youth with their new bee houses to take home.

Youth with their new bee houses to take home.

Teaching Youth about Pollinators

Yesterday Soni and I were presenters at the Outdoor Discovery Program held at Platte River State Park.  The weather was perfect, sunny, with a slight breeze. We taught 4th graders about pollinators and what they need for a habitat. We discussed one out of every three bites of food we eat is there because of pollinators. We asked the youth if they could make a list of pollinators and they easily mentioned bees, butterflies, bats and hummingbirds. The kids were surprised to learn that flies and beetles could be pollinators too. We talked about native solitary bees and showed them bee houses.The youth were able to view pollinators in action since it was a beautiful spring day and there were blooming wild plums near our site.  The kids were provided journals so they could record their observations. Thank you Nebraska Game and Parks for providing youth this wonderful educational opportunity.

M J

Waiting for kids to arrive.

Waiting for kids to arrive.

Are You Working on Your Native Bee Nest Boxes?

Bee Nest Box Structure - Bee Hotel

Bee Nest Box for the Cherry Creek Habitat

Now’s a great time to be working on your native bee nesting blocks and insect hotels. Make your structures simple or complex, basic or creative. The native bees won’t care – you’ll just want to provide a variety of hole sizes in the blocks or tubes you provide.

Check out Attracting Pollinators to Your Landscape. This resource also includes directions on how to make native bee nesting blocks. Once you’ve made your nesting blocks/structures, you can set those out in your landscape this spring.

Speaking of spring…It won’t be long and we’ll start to see “spring” in the Cherry Creek Habitat. You can enjoy the seasons with us on the live cam. The native bee nesting box structure and insect hotel are on the north side of the habitat – near the back of the camera view. Enjoy – watch live here.

Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!

Soni

Nebraska Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu

Bumble bees!

Bumble bees on Mexican giant hyssop.

Bumble bees on Mexican giant hyssop.

The past two mornings I have observed bumble bees in the Cherry Creek Habitat.  I am very excited about this. This has been one of my objectives to create a habitat that bumble bees would visit and hopefully nest in.  The bumble bees were visiting the Mexican giant hyssop that is in three of our container planters and the white clover that recovered nicely from being fed on over the winter by rabbits and deer.

MJ

Tips on Creating Habitats for Bumble Bees

The Xerces Society has recommendations on how to create habitats for bumble bees.
There are three things that bumble bees need in the landscape to thrive: flowers from which to gather pollen and nectar, a place to nest, and a sheltered location to overwinter. Continue reading

We are in business!

Bee Hotel

Looking west – Native Bee Nest Box is finally outside

The native bee nest box structure that has graced our office lobby this winter has been moved outdoors into the Cherry Creek Habitat. We did as much as we could to make the structure weather sturdy. The bookshelf/roof and table were treated to be water resistant. The back was covered with a special material and today, I finished up the structure with some caulking. The nesting blocks were put in place and now we wait… OK – honestly, it looks terrific!

We keep adding to the pollinator area with natives, herbs, fruiting shrubs and grasses. Oregano, serviceberry, penstemon, blue vervain were planted this morning. We have native chokecherry and wild plum waiting for their turn. MJ bought some prairie plants at the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum sale on Friday. She also planted a row of special sunflowers with her daughter over the weekend.

As for wildlife, a pair of red-winged blackbirds have a nest in the cattails behind the native bee nest box structure. They didn’t scold me quite as much today when I was outside working in the habitat. On Friday, there were several Baltimore Orioles in the Cottonwood tree. Grackles have been busy robbing the insect hotel of anything they can make nests out of and of course, we are finding deer tracks in the habitat after it rains.

One of our biggest challenges may be educating our own staff that not all thistles are bad. We have a beautiful second year tall thistle in the habitat. We decided it needed a special sign so it wouldn’t get dug up from helpful folks thinking it is a  noxious weed (it isn’t noxious by the way)… more on that another time 🙂

Here’s to sharing the buzz!

Soni

UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu

More Bee Hotels Popping Up in Lincoln

Bee Nest Box Structure - Bee Hotel

Bee Nest Box for the Cherry Creek Habitat

The Daily Nebraskan is a student newspaper at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Today the paper featured a story about “bee hotels” on East Campus and an upcoming UNL Publication – NebGuide to encourage folks to build their own.

We’re excited everyone is promoting the preservation of native bees!

Here is a link to the article in the Daily Nebraskan – “Hoping to preserve bee populations, UNL opens bee hotels”

When the NebGuide is finished, we’ll be sure to post a link. In the meantime, we have a resource for you to help get you started “Attracting Pollinators to Your Landscape“. It includes information on making bee nest boxes.

And don’t forget the bumble bees! Here is a link to build your own bumble bee domicile from the UNL Bumble Boosters.

Here’s to sharing the buzz!

Soni

UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu

 

Bumble Bee Domicile House Plans!

UNL’s Bumble Boosters have put their bumble bee domicile house plans on-line. Now you an make a bumble bee house fit for a queen. Of course, you need to work quickly. The bumble bee domiciles should be heading outdoors now. The queens are emerging from hibernation and will be seeking out suitable homes.

A link to the directions! http://bumbleboosters.unl.edu/?q=domiciledesign

Here’s to sharing the buzz!

Soni

UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu

Bumble Boosters!

“Like many other important native pollinators, bumble bees are threatened by habitat loss, chemical use, and disease. Availability of nest sites is a key factor limiting bumble bee populations. Bumble bees do not make their nest. They instead locate abandoned rodent dens in which to establish a colony. There is high competition for these nest sites. Queen bumble bees will kill each other for control of a natural nest site.” From “Build a Better Domicile” at http://bumbleboosters.unl.edu/

You can help encourage bumble bees by building a better bumble bee “home”. Since 1999, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Bumble Boosters has partnered with public and private organizations to encourage the conservation of bees and other invertebrate pollinators. The primary mission of Bumble Boosters is promoting the benefits of pollinators and public science literacy through engagement in authentic research with native pollinators. The “Build a Better Domicle” project encourages you to be a citizen scientist! Although the project is all out of bumble bee domicles for 2014, you can build your own. For information, contact bumbleboosters@unl.edu

To learn more about Bumble Boosters, visit http://bumbleboosters.unl.edu and join on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/unlbumbleboosters!

We’re strongly considering a bumble bee domicle for the Cherry Creek project! Time to get building! And don’t forget, now’s a great time to make your insect hotels and native bee nest boxes – http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/resources/354Pollinators.pdf

Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!

Soni

UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu