Eunice Soh: Hi, is it important where you put these bee hotels? Like in places of high floral density?
solitarybee: No. What's important is that we get is amazing levels of pollination. They are not difficult bees to keep and are not aggressive. The nesting female bees work for themselves and gathering pollen and nectar to create distinct pollen and nectar loaves for individual future bees.
solitarybee: Sounds great. Would love to see a picture of what your design was - either via the Campaigh for Solitary Bees FB page or via the solitarybee blog. Have you been raising them for a while?
solitarybee: The plastic tubes are a useful educational tool for the youngster. However if you want to raise a large population of bees, I would counsel you to only put in place tunnels that you can access in the Autumn. Bamboo is hard to split, paper straws lining drill blocks are good however do look out for natural closed reeds of at least 5 inches (12cm) in length. They are the best (aside from closed tray systems which cost but are low maintenance for large populations).
Christy Hill: do they make honey?
BarrelOfBees: Very nice. It's good to see they don't mind the vinyl tubes as I'll be getting some mason bees soon, mostly for my kids education so it would be nice to see inside. I thought I'd have to put them in wood blocks or bamboo.
Karlito Serrano: Nicely done mate! I made some trays on my own which I can remove one by one and scrape all the cocoons easily off
solitarybee: Thank you Viktor for the encouraging words. I adore these bees and the incredible amount of fruit I get most years (this year frost did for most of the cherries and apples). Time committment is much less than honey beekeeping (and less costly) after putting out a test block in the first year, it is mainly providing 2/3 x more clean accessible tunnels the following spring & removing parasited chambers in September/October. The bees aren't aggressive and so neighbours enjoy better pollination.
solitarybee: Very sorry for my late reply Popitinpete. Yes generally they prefer the tunnels I provide now, but I do occasionally have a handful of bees that go in between the bricks. I suppose I could repoint the brick mortar, but as they don't excavate more than old cocoon debris, there's zero risk to the building. The only minor inconvenience, as I am raising a large population, is that parasitic flies will still breed on the brick bee nests so they do occasionally parasite my controlled population.
solitarybee: If you take a look at my video channel, you'll see one on how to make a 'mason bee observation box'. It's great for learning about them and seeing into their world. If you want to raise these bees in large numbers however (I now have around 3000 of them after 7 years) it's nest to use accessible tunnels, like routed trays ('Bee Beds'), lined drill blocks, thick cardboard tubes or plant reeds such as trimmed Japanese Knotweed. Hope you take this forward. :)
solitarybee: The key thing we get is amazing levels of pollination - no honey though, but no difficult bees (they are not aggressive nor sting) nor high maintenance hives either. Because all the female nesting bees are working for themselves and gathering their own pollen and nectar, they pollinate fruit trees as well as if not better than honey bees.
popitinpete: Inspiring video (and the "how to make" video). I presume they leave your house bricks alone with all that accommodation? I will make a simple block but it appears you have lined yours. Is it just paper?
solitarybee: @eccentricoldcow Hi Annette, you start to see the grey edge of the ladder at 14 seconds. Yes, I hope the links on the video give a better idea of how the different tunnel habitats are made. I have had some great results this year - 350 tunnels sealed by the bees, and nearly at 200 members on the 'Campaign for solitary bees' page on Facebook. Not bad eh?!
eccentricoldcow: How did you manage to take this video Paul, as it's so high up? I can't see how you did it from the window as you're facing them, and can't see a ladder.
A brilliant view of the homes and I shall keep this for future reference. Thanks for the link on how to make it.