Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Bee hotels

Our OPAL (Open Air Laboratories) West Midlands contact has been to see our 'bee hotel' and we've found lots of bees!

As part of their research across the region we've had a 'bee hotel' throughout the summer. This has been specifically designed to help a range of bees find a home. Our hotel was taken apart and we were able to see the cocoons that bees make to allow them to sleep throughout the winter. We discovered 2 different types of leafcutter bees as well as red mason bees.

Leafcutter bees are amazing - they collect fragments of leaves to contstruct individual nest cells. They cut the leaves to make a smooth semicircle about 20mm in diameter. They're then used to build up a cell within a tube-like nest (either one they've already built or artificial like ours). Each leaf-lined cell is provisioned with nectar and pollen, an egg laid into it and sealed. A nest tunnel may have up to 1 dozen or more of these cells. Once finished, the adult seals the end and leaves nature to take its course.

You'll be pleased to hear that although we've removed the cells from the tube the bees will remain safe until the weather warms in late spring. Can't wait to see them flying around in the gardenin the summer. And we're all looking forward to receiving our next bee totel this year.

Mary, Lower Smite Farm

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