March 20, 2020

Wild bee hostel in the city / Méh garázs a városban

Szeretnék leírni itt egy pár észrevételt magyarul, de alig van idöm leirni az anyanyelvemben. Számomra fontos hogy osztom a tapasztalataimot a helyi kertészeknek, bogarászoknak, stb. Ha valakinek ideje és motivációja leforditani ezt, nyugodtan küldjön el nekem, vagy simán beposztoljon a kommentekben (ha egyáltalán van.)

On March 15, I spotted the first European Orchard Bee in our new community garden. After the initial joy, I realized we're not ready to host them! So I brushed up on what the current best practices are and found some new information.

Almost immediately, I found a recent study of hundreds of bee hotels in Toronto which found a greater percentage of parasitized bees living in what should be safe shelters for endangered bees. The worst offenders were community gardens like ours. I soon realized that my ideal bee hotel, full of various buzzing species, whirring together about one small corner of the garden was very dangerous for the bees. It turns out to be easy to attract bees but a bit trickier to protect them.

So I began evaluating our new garden situation from a bee's perspective. We're putting in a bee hotel, but I'm trying a few variations on my original design idea.

The general rules I've found that work are:
-place shelter a meter above ground (to reduce moisture, mites and fungus)
-protect shelter from rain and wind
-place shelter in morning sun but afternoon shade (to provide energy for the females before the workday begins but to avoid cooking her babies when high summer sets in)
-no plants or objects in front of the shelter (to avoid attracting spiders)
The new considerations I'm putting into the designs are:
- less carrying capacity in one place (to reduce total damage, if parasites infest)
- more separated 'sections' of chambers (to slow advance of any parasites)
- fix any loose tubes, bamboo, reeds, or pithy stalks
- less symmetry/more eccentric design and strong markers (to make it easier for bees to find their home chambers)
- smaller groups of hole sizes (to keep species at a comfortable distance)
- more variety of materials (to attract more species) Rolled paper tubes simply taped up and placed into the holes in 'air-bricks' is a new idea I'm trying this year.
- maximize variety of flower size to attract various types of bees. (I've just learnt that some bees only feed on a specific type of flower. I haven't found a list of these specialists in Hungary or this region.)
- make sure you have flowers in bloom early and late in the season. (Idea: this year, some over-wintered greens, lettuces, rocket and spinach have run to seed with the early warm spell we just had. I'll let them go to full flower until some of the spring flowers come up. I've also planted a few hyacinth and daffodil bulbs, just to get the bees attention.)
- make sure there is food, water and building materials in close range to the bee hotel. (We've got a rose bush for leafcutter bees, and I'll be keeping some clay moist for any mason bees to use. There is some nettle so carder bees can get fuzz, as well. We use a number of clay flower pots filled with smooth pebbles and a couple large flat rocks on top, so all flying insects can safely access water.)

Placement for us is tricky as our garden has highly variable microclimates. In dead of winter, we are in total shade and in high summer full sun. In Feb, sunlight reaches the far wall so half the garden warms up. By now in March, the beds getting full sun along the back wall are drying out, while the rest of the garden is just getting its bump of warmth. In another month, the trees along the wall will begin shading out the wall, reducing both the reflected light and the heat collected during the day. By May, those far beds will be in shade most of the day. This seems like the best place for the bee hotel, so that when the summer sun beats down on the rest of the garden, the bees will be shaded by the trees. However, as I learned in the first community garden that I built a bee hotel in, the bees won't come if it's in the wrong place. After two years without tenants, I was enlightened one day when a huge Violet Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa violacea) bored a hole in our log pile, explaining perfectly where we should put the shelter.

Posted on March 20, 2020 23:50 by ikomposzt ikomposzt | 1 observation | 1 comment | Leave a comment