BEHOLD: A BEE HOUSE


I was given a bee house in May. Previously I was the proud owner of a bumblebee nest box, which didn’t seem to be a success until, in early Spring 2014, I watched a small, dozy bumblebee crawl out of it, slowly get its act together, and fly off…

I wasn’t certain how a bee house would work, so I put it in a quiet south-facing out-of-the-way corner, later adding a pot of lavender under it.

Bee House, Totnell 1

After a couple of weeks of nada and niente, I decided to move the house to a length of wall that stayed longer in the morning sun, and to dispense with the lavender.

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This looked more promising, but I was highly doubtful that such a fine multi-apartment abode would find favour with the bees. The holes looked good – a range of large down to very small – but still, it looked a bit… NEW. I thought it would need to be weathered for 6 months to get rid of the smell of ‘shop’. 

Gratifyingly soon, however, I was proved wrong. One morning we found (a) a bee inspecting one of the penthouse suites and (b) 2 partial wax capsBee House, Totnell 3

Note bees on the roof and on the lower storey; 2 partially capped cells on the upper storeyBee House, Totnell 4

The following morning there was evidence of further activity – one completely capped cell

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Since then a number of bees have taken overnight accommodation in the bee house. They prefer the holes drilled in wood over bamboo holes for a short stay, and at any given moment there are two or three small faces visible.

So overall we are pleased to report that the experiment can be counted a success. The garden has been revitalised during the last 2 years following 20 years or so of benign neglect, and bee-friendly plants have been a priority. So far, so good.

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7 thoughts on “BEHOLD: A BEE HOUSE

    • Thanks Jessica, I’m so pleased it’s worked, and so soon after putting it up. Aliter the owl box, 2 of our nest boxes and the “humane rabbit trap”, all resolutely empty! And you are right, I’ve seen small skinny flies pop in for a rest, and a tiny irridescent green insect that I can’t ID from my book… RH

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  1. You have a wonderful garden, RH. A green healthy oasis, it looks very inviting.
    It’s a good idea with a bee house, we might copy you and install something similar. So far we have made sure we have lots of bee friendly plants all over, they really love the lovely lavender of Norfolk. Recently, in the botanical garden in Bonn, I was attracted to the arrangement for the bees and the insects; such busy activity in there.
    In Norway, Oslo has installed the first worldwide bee-highway to help the dwindling bee population:
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jun/25/oslo-creates-worlds-first-highway-to-protect-endangered-bees
    We’re off to Norway now, have a wonderful summer, all of you,
    Dina x

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    • Very nice of you to say so, Dina. We’ve done a lot of work on it – my late mother-in-law wasn’t keen on change! Go for it: what works in Dorset will surely work in Norfolk. Thanks for the link, most interesting. Have a wonderful time in Norway (land of my fathers, if you recall)! RH

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  2. The garden looks beautiful and the bee house looks very at home on the wall and would be decorative on its own but it is much better now with occupants. It is really exciting to watch the bees move in and I love seeing the little faces staring back when I peer into the holes. Do you know what kind of bees you have got? In the UK it is useful to look at ispot http://www.ispotnature.org/communities/global for an ID. Amelia

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    • Thanks Amelia, we are pathetically excited that having moved the box from a discreet corner to a more prominent flowery position, the bees (and other insects) caught on so swiftly. No idea on ID so thanks for the link. That’s my next ‘job’, once Brown has beaten Nadal – I can’t make an ID from my Collins book. I took ‘little face’ photos today, I might email you one if I have your address. RH

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