Monday, August 23, 2010

Native bee nesting update

A little while back a wrote how to make a house for solitary nesting bees in 5 minutes (part of my wildlife garden stuff in 5 minute series) and above is a video of the bee house I installed at the Native Plant Garden at 8th and Grant.

So, here is the update after the bee houses have been in place for about two months...

There has been a lot of activity in the last couple of weeks, and not just at my house, but at all the locations where I set them up- at the Native Plant Garden at 8th and Grant (aka the 8th Street Pocket Park) and at Home ReSource. Also the activity seemed to be shared by not just the mason bees (Osmia spp.) but also various leaf cutting bees (Megachile spp.), and even some brood parasites like the cuckoo bee (Coelioxys spp.). The cuckoo bee frequents the nest boxes because they lay their eggs in the nests of the leaf cutting bees. These were the most active bees in our backyard tonight. All are really cool.

Here is a great guide to the common bees of western Montana, with an emphasis on native solitary nesting bees by Jennifer Palladini, and it would be a great compliment to your bee house to keep a copy close by.

By the way, although it is recommended to have them face east, the ones facing south have much more bees in them (I should that this conclusion is based on a small and unequal sample size so, please, view these results with caution).

Although it seemed expected that the native bees would find the boxes in our backyard and at the Native Plant Garden at 8th and Grant, I am most excited they have taken up residence in the nest box in the native plant garden at Hom ReSource. Home ReSource in located in an industrial setting, a place with few native plants, and few gardens. Their presence in this little patch of habitat is especially gratifying.

Though I questioned the efficacy of these boxes for conservation, etc.. in my last post, they are just flat out fun to watch and a great tool for teaching and learning about our native bees. So, by all means build one and install one today. Better yet, make a few and give them as gifts (and include the bee guide).


  1. Congratulations! I'm so happy to hear that someone's bee house gets guests. I put one up maybe 18 months ago, but so far, not much luck.

    At a big native bee event I talked to some scientists who told me that 70% of California native bees want to nest in the ground, so I might just have the wrong accomodations. I'm working in removing some mulch and having more bare dirt, who knows, maybe that will do some good.

  2. We have had the same results with our solitary bee nests. We put up two facing east in part shade and had very little activity. This spring we added two new ones facing south in more sun and they were both completely full. I agree that they're fun to watch and are a good talking point with the neighbor's kids.

    Here's my post about ours.

  3. Congratulations, The "Bees" will going to love their new home. Home sweet home bees.

  4. Good stuff. Given the emphasis on "native pollinators" as a critical component of of forest ecology, I'd like to see owners of private forest lands get involved in building and deploying these native bee houses. Can I share this post and video with our audience at The Greenwood Project?