Wild Bee Care
Wild bees and solitary beneficial wasps can both move into your bee house or bee hotel. Each bee and wasp species has their own nesting preferences and their own way of building their nests. Here are our tips that can help you understand some of the most popular or common guests.
One of the many stressors that today's bees face is a loss of flowering habitat. An easy way to increase and improve habitat is to convert our grass lawns, which to a bee is a food desert, to flowering bee lawns.
Wild hole-nesting bees, depending on their season, may start flying soon! You have two options for taking care of your wild hole-nesting bees. First, you can harvest wild bee cocoons in the early spring, which requires more time and effort but you will be rewarded with getting to know your wild bee guests. The second option requires less time while still providing wild bees with fresh nesting holes each year.
Native hole-nesting bees, just like any creature, have their own set of diseases and pests that, when left unchecked, can harm or kill them. Nesting holes should be opened once a year to remove diseases like chalkbrood (a deadly fungal infection) and pests like pollen mites (they eat the pollen loaf before the larvae can). At the very least, fresh nesting holes should be provided every year.
It's the time of year to talk about the bees and the bees! Even though the world is home to a huge diversity of bee species, they all share a common feature - mother bees are able to choose the sex of each egg! Learn how sex determination works and why we all need to avoid neonic pesticides.
Follow the story of the construction of a bee hotel! Using donated materials from local residents, Cornell Cooperative Extension in Schuyler County is building an educational pollinator hotel in their garden. The hotel will be located in a teaching garden open to the public, where members of the community can pass by and grab a flyer or read about the bees.
Dr. Jason Graham is the lead researcher developing conservation for the endangered Hawaiian yellow-faced bees in the Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences Department at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa. Seven species of Hawaii's yellow-faced bees were placed on the endangered species list in October 2016, these are the first species of bees to be protected and labeled as endangered.
Backyard bee houses or bee hotels have become so popular that large garden distributors have started selling quickly made nesting habitats. When these products are made from drilled blocks of wood or bamboo tubes, they actually do more harm than good for local hole-nesting bees. These companies intentions are in the right place but they lack the knowledge of the pests and diseases that can harm bees.
We hear a common argument or question about raising hole-nesting bees: In nature, these bees nest in holes in wood, why don’t I just leave them alone?
The nesting holes we are providing for bees in our bee hotels and bee houses are really different than the nesting holes found in nature. We can't build a completely natural situation for our hole-nesting bees, who are wild creatures after all, so we need to learn to maintain our man-made houses for managed wild bees.
Dr. Jim Cane of the USDA Agricultural Research Service has recently shared with us the following excerpt of his recent work with native bees that exclusively pollinate squash. An article by Science Daily also discusses the findings showing that squash-pollinating bees migrated with the spread of squash agriculture across North America.