While many may know of honeybees as pollinators, do you know that the world’s best pollinators are actually solitary bees? With the decline in the honeybee population, solitary bees are the next best alternative if you are looking for pollinators in your garden. To attract these pollinators, we have some DIY bee house ideas for you to check out below. But first, let us study the basics and get to know more about the various solitary bee species. And of course, it is always possible you can use your own bees for this if you decice to learn beekeeping.
The different types of solitary bee species
As mentioned, we shall familiarize ourselves with the nature behind solitary bees and understand their behavior patterns before they move into our bee homes. First, solitary bees are less aggressive and seldom attack unless they feel threatened. In fact, most of them do not sting in the first place. As such, they are the perfect fit for those looking for extra bees as pollinators. The reason why they are named after solitary species is that they do not require a big colony to work together, and they manage well on their own or in small groups. These hiveless bees, however, occupy the same living spaces. With that said, let us find out more about the different individual species:
1. Carpenter bees
Carpenter bees are often misportrayed as harmful to live trees due to the tunnels they build within. However, to clear this misperception, they do not cause any problem with the trees because the tunnels created are close to the surface of the tree and this would not hurt the trees at all. Within their tunnel, they store food and lay eggs, making it their perfect hide-out for winter seasons. As such, old tree trunks and dead branches are carpenter bees’ favorite habitats. While female carpenter bees have stingers to attack when they feel threatened, males, on the other hand, do not. Something worthy to note is that bees usually sting when they are out to protect their colony in times of danger and for the case of carpenter bees, they do not have a colony to protect. So, this just further illustrates how carpenter bees possess a minimal threat to us.
2. Mining bees
Despite being often seen together in a large colony, mining bees actually do not work together much. They cohabit in the same tunnel, which is used for them to lay eggs. This proves to be advantageous as people get intimidated by their large colony and perceive them as dangerous. While they do sting when they feel threatened like most other bees, they are pretty docile and are excellent in pollinating. So, they are also good to consider if you are looking for some bees to pollinate your garden.
3. Mason bees
For those looking into starting an orchard, mason bees will be your best handyman due to their ability in pollinating fruit trees and as such often employed in commercial orchard operations. Furthermore, they are really easy to attract with just abandoned nests left by other solitary bees. Therefore, they are highly recommended if you are in a rush to start an orchard because it is very likely they will speedily move into your DIY bee houses.
DIY bee house and the bees it attracts
Thankfully, solitary bees are not picky when it comes to their habitat so once they spot an already made bee house, they would surely inhabit it, because why not right? Without further ado, let us get straight to the details on how some DIY bee houses are made. Let’s get working!
1. Bamboo bee house
The bamboo bee house is one of the simpler bee houses to construct. It only requires you to build a foundation that can be a PVC pipe or an old wooden box, basically anything that can hold a handful of bamboo canes. Thereafter, cut the bamboo into pieces of equal sizes and have them cut joint to joint such that one end of the tunnel is closed. With that, you are good to go, place them somewhere with plenty of sunshine and at a minimum height of four feet off the ground. We predict that Carpenter bees and Mason bees would be most attracted to this kind of DIY bee house, but you may also spot more than these species living in there!
2. Wood bee house
As can be inferred from the name, a wood bee house is simply built from woodblocks or old stumps. Get a half-inch drill bit and drill holes into the wooden block while keeping in mind every hole should be of equal sizes. You can end off with some finishing touches by trimming it, you can finally hang your final product four feet off the ground in a location with lots of sunshine and preferably facing the south. Once again, a wood bee house also attracts Carpenter bees and Mason bees mainly.
3. Pallet Bee Hotel
For versatile use, you can consider building a pallet bee hotel as it accommodates many different types of species due to its wide range of design features. For every layer, you can include different materials such as a wood box house, straws and wooden logs with drilled holes. This is an especially fun DIY bee house to build because you are in for a surprise since you can never be sure what kind of bee species you will see in a pallet bee hotel.
4. Sod Bee House
Last but not least, we have sod bee houses which we believe is the best for mining bees. To craft one, take layers of sod and stack them up with the dirt facing upwards. Pick a wildflower mix to pant on top of the stod stack. With that, the layers of sod and wildflower would do the trick and attract mining bees to your garden.
All in all, we would like to reiterate that solitary bees are just as important as honey bees because it plays a part in helping the environment and especially useful for farmers and homesteaders. If you’d like to attract some bees, build a DIY bee house with the tips learned from us today! Good luck!