Creating a Bee Bonanza !

The last few days have been spent at Yew View on a big project to transform a bare brick wall into a Bee hotel. This brick wall is positioned directly above the wildflower meadow and in an area that receives a lot of sun. It should be the perfect location. I wanted to create some of my own ‘bespoke’ residences as well as using a selection I had bought in Morrisons at just £3. I bought some of these last year and they were very well used by a selection of species. I do recommend adding some protection of some point on the exterior of the  boxes, though.

I called on a friend, Dave Harper, to help me with the Bee Boxes. He has had lots of experience building these and is a skilled carpenter with all the kit needed to turn my ideas into reality! With Sam Stewart, another wildlife enthusiast over for a day to help with idea on a fox den project, we were soon all getting stuck into the project.

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I had decided to have three large boxes, one square, one triangle and a long rectangle one. Dave made up the frames and we treated the plywood backs and screwed them into place.

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We then cut a series of small logs to 6″ length and screwed these into place, from the back…

Once the logs were all screwed into place securely, holes of different sizes were drilled into these. We repeated the process with the other large frame.

I also gave the exterior of the great little Morrisons Bee Boxes, a coat of paint…

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We had left spaces on the large frames, so we could screw these into the brick wall. Using large screws and raw plugs, we drilled  holes into the brick and mounted them securely onto the bare wall above the wild flower meadow.

To finish the boxes, I had ordered some bamboo tubes. These provide all different sized holes for a variety of bee species. Using a small amount of wood glue on the sides, we spent the next few hours steadily gluing a thousand of them into place to completely fill all the spaces left in the large frames. The rectangular frame was half filled with some old clay roof tiles, some bamboo and some teasels from the garden. These would provide habitats for a variety of creatures.

It had taken a while to create, but I was thrilled with the final result… a blank brick wall turned into a work of art that is hopefully going to be a haven for solitary bees! For those not aware of how the bees use holes like this, they use them for breeding. Solitary bees choose a hole (and different species prefer different sized holes) and  they lay an egg in the end. Collecting pollen and nectar, they create a ‘packed lunch’ around the egg before sealing the chamber. Depending on the species, some seal each chamber with mud, others with chewed up leaves and some with a circle cut from a leaf. They then repeat the process, creating multiple chambers until they reach the front of the hole. They seal the final chamber off  and leave their young to develop. Each egg hatches into a larva which munches away on the nectar and pollen left for it, before pupating into a cocoon. The new bees spent the winter in the cocoon, developing into a new solitary bee ready for the following Spring. As the weather warms up, those near the front hatch first  and gradually all of the new bees eat their way out of their chamber into the Spring sunshine, ready to breed and start the cycle again! These bees are essential pollinators and we should ALL be doing as much as we can to create habitats to short their life cycles.

I had thought it would be amazing to be able to see inside the tubes and had found lots of great resources on the internet as lots of people have done the same. Dave took it all on board, slaved away, and turned up with a complete Mason Bee Mansion, with removable panels, each with a perspex window so we can watch what goes on! It is going to be somewhat of an experiment this year…. and a very exciting one and I will obviously be blogging and photographing the results! The box looks totally amazing and we mounted it on a rather beautiful very old Oak fence post that Dave had found.  I think it looks stunning and I can’t wait to see if we have some residents take up the great new spaces on offer!

A MASSIVE thank you to Dave for all his hard work and also to Sam who got stuck in as well. I am absolutely thrilled with the results and our Bee habitats are a great addition to Yew View. I just can’t wait for the weather to warm up and for the first bees to take a look!