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Wildlife gardening ideas: Helping bees

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 12:36 UK time, Monday, 30 May 2011

There are loads of ways that you can help wildlife in your garden. With bees it's a two-way thing: If you provide them with resting places and food, they'll pollinate your flowers and help your garden to burst with colour this spring.

Here's one idea we've tried and tested.

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You'll need:

  • Four pieces of wood: They should be roughly equal in size and can be as large as you want, but remember that you'll need to fill the box so it's a good idea to know how many bamboo sticks you've got first.
  • Bamboo sticks: You can use any hollow stick such as reed stems or Japanese knotweed but bamboo works the best. The diameter of the holes can be anything from 0.2cm to 1cm. Different bees prefer different sizes of hole so having a range of sizes of bamboo is a good thing. The sticks need to be as straight as possible. You could leave some that need a bit of cleaning out as well as some insects prefer to do the digging out themselves.
  • Eight nails or wood glue

What to do:

  1. Cut the bamboo into small pieces that are equal to the depth of your box.
  2. Connect your pieces of wood to leave a rectangular gap. It may help for you to connect three pieces first and then bunch your bamboo pieces together in the gap to work out where to put the fourth. You will need to fill up the gap so try not to leave too much space.
  3. Slide the bamboo sticks into the gap. They should pack in tightly. There can be small gaps between sticks but once full, if you hold the box on its side none should fall out. If this happens you need to pack more in!
  4. Attach your bee home to a south facing wall in a position where it is sheltered from the rain. Find a spot near a good supply of flowers to make things easier for your hungry bees.

There's all sorts of other advice online for ways to help bees in your garden. BBC Gardener's World have directions for making a bee hotel and planting for bees. Buglife have tried and tested a few bee nest aternatives, and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust have some great advice on gardening for bumblebees throughout the year.

So tell us what you think of these ideas and let us know what you've tried and tested to attract bees in your garden.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    we have bees in the yard at work nesting in what we call racks theres 2 nest all together is this normal cause we thought they nest under ground.

  • Comment number 2.

    jpc35, there are a multitude of different types of bees, some of which live in communal nests, others solitary and different types prefer different homes- some underground, others above.

  • Comment number 3.

    I have noticed about 6 small pale yellow bees in my bird box,they have been there
    for 2 weeks.can anyone tell me why.

  • Comment number 4.

    I have a lovely mature Holly Tree in my garden and in it get covered in bees, I think they are honey bees because quite a few of them fly through the back door to the window in front of the Holly. Is this quite normal? Last year I had a nest of Carder Bees under some thick card in my front garden they were a lovely gingery colour.

  • Comment number 5.

    Can anyone tell me why the bumble bees in my garden sometimes rub themselves on the little leaves in the tree, are the cleaning themselves?

  • Comment number 6.

    Why does everyone call it a "Bee Hotel" when it's clearly a "Bee & Bee" ?

    An alternative solution is a small log with several holes about 8-10mm diameter drilled in each end and placed strategically, or screw in a hook or eye with which to hang it up. Of course that would then be a "B-log".

  • Comment number 7.

    Apis mellifera! is a man made hybrid and been around since approx late 1700,it was only a matter of time that some bug would do them harm,Like the hybrid english elm.

    the verroa mite from asia.although the asian honey may not give as much honey,it might have more recistance to the verroa mite as it come from the same aria,may its time to rethink our honey bee species.

  • Comment number 8.

    We have a plot of phacelia on our smallholding and it is covered with bees all of the time. Some are our own honeybees and there are lots of different types of other bees there too. This is definately something we will sow every year now. I honestly think it's the most bees I have ever seen collecting in one spot. The other great thing about phacelia is that it's a green manure and once dug in will keep down the weeds too. I paid 79p for the packet of seeds and it has gone mad!

  • Comment number 9.

    Making a bee hotel is a great idea, what is the danger of using Japanese knotweed. Is it possible that you can encourage seeds to be spread?

  • Comment number 10.

    Thanks to Smiling Carcass about bees living underground, I have some tiny ones going into a hole in my lawn, I was very puzzled but now I know its nothing unusual

  • Comment number 11.

    Hi all.
    I've not lived here long in this house in cwmllynfell, just by the black mountains. In my back garden I have a spruce tree of sorts, not sure what kind exactly but it is simply swarming with what I originally thought was just bees but I've found lots more. There are wasps, bees of several types like wasp etc flies again many different types, a snail on one branch. birds all day long. its alive in more ways than one and is a small eco system in itself. I tried to get a good photo. I'll keep trying !
    Keep up the good work.
    PIESSE1
    (P.S.1)

 

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