How to make a Solitary Bee Box

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1 How to make a Solitary Bee Box **Note: The following instructions include the use of tools that may be dangerous. Ensure there is adult supervision with children. Time: 1 hour People: 1-2+ Materials: Wood (untreated) o Blocks and sheets Drill and drill bits of various sizes Nails Hammer Saw Measuring tape Sand Paper Chicken wire (optional) Ideal season: Solitary Bee Houses can be built at anytime, but should be placed outside between April and June as bees will be seeking new homes from April to September. Where can I place the bee box? Bee boxes can be placed in your backyard, parks, green spaces, neighbourhoods and community gardens...almost anywhere! The buzz about bees! Solitary bees are bee species that do not live in hives (like honey bees and bumblebees), instead most bees have their nests in small tunnels, holes in the ground or use hollow stems of dead plants. Solitary bees do not make honey and are more efficient at pollinating. Solitary bees are not aggressive and don t swarm. They are faithful to their nest sites and help ensure healthy ecosystems. **Note: 85% of all bees are solitary! Step #1 - Building your shelter First, you need to build a shelter for the nests. You can build it as big or as small as you want. Just ensure that the roof of the structure extends in a slope to deflect the rain from the nests (Keeping it dry is very important!). The shelter doesn t need a back to it if you are planning to put it against a wall or fence - you can put chicken wire on the back if you need something to keep the blocks in place. However, if you are going to make it free standing or fixed to a pole you will need a back to protect it from the elements (i.e., rain and wind).

2 If you are building your first bee house, we recommend starting with one that is 30.5 cm (12 in) high at the front, 40.6 cm high at the back (16 in), 30.5 cm (12 in) wide, 20.3 cm (8 in) deep, with the roof extending 30.5 cm (12 in) on a slope to deflect rain. And attach the pieces using nails. **Note: For the structure, you can use any timber - new or old - even recycled wood, waste wood or logs. Just make sure it hasn t been recently treated with a preservative. Try to avoid using composite materials (hardboard, chipboard or particleboard) as it has a tendency to disintegrate in the rain. Step #2 - Hollowing out the blocks Solitary bees nest in small tunnels. We want to place blocks full of different sized holes into the shell of the bee house you have constructed. Different sizes will attract different species! These blocks can range in size and make sure you are using dry wood that is untreated (Including dry logs or sections of untreated timber). The length of the blocks you use can vary according to the size/length of your drill bit. It is essential that you don t drill all the way through the block. You want to drill the holes about 7.6 cm (3 in) to 12.7 cm (5 in) deep. For example, if you are using a piece of wood that is 10.2 cm (4 in) by 10.2 cm (4 in), you would drill a hole about 8.9 cm (3 ½ in) deep. **Note: Ensure you are drilling with drill bits of various sizes; however, make sure the diameters of the holes are between 2 mm and 10 mm - no bigger! Or else the bees will not use them! Step #3 - Making your house a home Make sure that the holes you have drilled are smooth and free of splinters. Clean and smooth the entrance of each hole with sandpaper or a countersinking drill bit. Also, carefully clean off any sawdust from the holes. The bees will not enter if there are splinters or sawdust! Once done, place the blocks in the shelter with the holes facing out. Step #4 - Setting up the open house Make sure you are placing the bee house at least 1 m (39.3 in) off the ground with no vegetation obscuring the entrances to the tunnels. Your bee house must be placed in full sun (facing southeast or south)!

3 **Note: Solitary bees are cold blooded and require the energy from the sun to warm them up! Step #5 - A little bit of housekeeping You may choose to place chicken wire in front of the entrances to ward off any birds. If you notice other insects (parasitic wasps and bees) taking over or preying on the other solitary bee nests, don t worry! It s all part of the intricate (insect) ecosystem! Make sure you do not move the bee house at least until November (although it s best not to move it at all). Make sure you do not use insecticides on the bees or around the bee house! Again, throughout the construction - do not use chemically treated wood! Make sure your bee house has a good overhanging roof and is rainproof. If you are decorating your bee box, make sure you use milk paint, artist s acrylic paint (water-based) or latex house paint to avoid anti-fungal additives. If using glue make sure it is water-based to reduce the amount of chemicals. Do not sell or give away houses that are being used. Avoid buying bees, if you create and maintain habitat and pollinator gardens locally, you will provide opportunities for all native bees and they will come to you! Maintenance: If you wish, during the fall/winter you can move the occupied holes and keep them in a cold, dry place such as an unheated shed, carport or porch and the blocks can be replaced in the bee house in March. It is important that the bee house stays cold and dry during the fall and winter when excessive rain and wind may dissolve the mud walls of the cells and destroy the young bees living there. Do not store the houses in a warm place, the wetness, not the cold affects the health of the occupants. Once April comes, the young bees have over-wintered in a dormant state inside the tunnels and will emerge soon with the coming of warmth. **Note: As long as the bee house is dry and is well protected from the elements (rain, wind, snow), you do not need to move the blocks. Step #6 - What types of tenants can you expect? Here are a few of the common solitary bees you might notice living in your bee house! Mason Bees: Mason bees are effective flower pollinators, especially fruit blossoms. They are found throughout Northern USA and Southern Canada. They will typically be your first residents in spring since the female mason lives for one month in spring. Mason bees typically construct a series of cells within the tunnel (up to 20 cells) with each cell consisting of sufficient pollen and an egg. Cells are separated from each other by thin mud walls. Eggs located closer to the back will develop into females, while those near the front

4 will be males since they develop faster. The Mason bee will often leave the cell closest to the entrance empty to discourage predators. They have finished constructing their nest when they plug the tunnel of the hole with mud. **Note: There are many different species of Mason bees that you may encounter and are typically green or blue but may also be black. Their name comes from their usual use of mud in their nests, it can save females a lot of effort if you have a patch of moist soil available nearby for them to use, especially during dry weather. Leafcutter Bees: Leafcutter bees have been introduced to North America from Europe to aid in the effective pollination of many food crops, such as alfalfa. There are 140 species found in North America. Leafcutter bees will most likely be seen later in the summer. They line their tunnels in similar fashion to mason bees, but use pieces of leaves from nearby plants they cut using their mandibles to seal the cells within the tunnel and the tunnel itself. A leafcutter bee has walled the hole in the top right with leaves, while a mason bee has sealed the bottom right hole with mud....and many more! Remember that this is only one of many different options for solitary bee houses that you may choose to follow. There are also options to buy a pre-made solitary bee box, but making it yourself has a more personal touch and allows you to reuse wood.

5 References: House.aspx All pictures from:

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