We’ve all heard about the declining bee population, mainly due to habitat loss. But you can make a big difference in your own backyard with a bee-friendly garden and more:
BEE HOUSE BLUE PRINTS:
• For your house walls: Use an empty milk carton (waterproof) with the spout cut off — leave the bottom intact — or a box about that size made of wood scraps (not cedar).
• Paint a wooden house a bright colour with exterior zero-or low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint. If you plan to make more than one bee house, be sure they’re different colours.
• Fill the box with layered stacks of brown paper nest tubes (available at garden stores). Cut the tubes to 6 inches long, close the end with tape or a staple, or fold them in half. Visit avogel.ca to learn how to make your own nest tubes from scratch.
• Hang the house somewhere out of the rain, facing south or east, at eye level, once the temperature outside has warmed to 12-14º C.
• Dig down below your garden soil adjacent to your bee house until you expose the clay layer, or keep a bowl of moist clay near your bee house for the mason species to use as construction material.
• It may take a full season for the bees to find your house. No luck? You can also purchase mason bees from a garden store or local bee keeper.
À LA CARTE FOR BEES
• Bees eat two things: nectar and pollen
• Choose a variety of plants that flower at different times so there’s always a snack available.
• Some flowers are sterile and of little use to pollinators. Native plants or heirloom varieties are best.
• Blue, purple, violet, white and yellow flowers are bees’ favourite colours.
• Bee-navigation friendly: Plant flowers of a single species in clumps about 4ft in diameter – easy to find.
• All bees have different tongue lengths, so a variety of flower shapes will benefit a diversity of bees.
Texts excerpted from The David Suzuki Foundation: