So we can’t get enough of them! They buzz, they pollinate, they make their homes in nooks and crannies, they’re not as aggressive as their European cousins. Native bees come in all shapes and sizes. They are solitary and wild—meaning they don’t live in hives like the honeybee, but they do the same work—pollinating our flowers, fruits, and veggies. While we don’t harvest honey from our native, wild bees, we do benefit from them. Many native bees eat aphids and other garden pests. When inviting native bees to your patch of paradise, it is important to keep it insecticide free.
Because native bees don’t live in hives, inviting them to live near your plants is ever is such fun. Look at the inventive ways folks have been mimicking the wild bees nesting sites.
In Hampden, my neck of the woods, you can pick up a ready made wild bee hotel on the Avenue at Trohv.
Or make your own: use a variety of materials, such as stone, branches, logs, bark, bound reeds and bamboo. Make sure the materials for the nesting site are clean and that the wood is untreated. The various components and sizes of the holes attract different species. According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland nearly 400 species of native bees. The holes serve as burrows in which the females will lay their egg and raise their larvae. Elderberry, blackberry and rose shoots added to the nesting site can serve as a food source. Most important are protection from rain—either cover the nesting site or assure that the drilled holes are slanted so rain drains out—and southern exposure—bees like to be warm. Because bee hotels are made from natural materials, these nesting sites will eventually decay. This can be a wonderful part of enjoying the passage of time in a garden.
Jenny and I have been enjoying the bees so much that we are planning a June 28th workshop to do a gorgeous planter of native perennial pollinator plants. Those who join the workshop will leave with their potted planter in hand, ready to serve the bees.
Plant thoughtful, plant happy!
More native bee resources:
About the Authors:
Jenny Wienckowski and Zoe Clarkwest met at Morgan State University, Baltimore, where they both studied for their masters of Landscape Architecture. Jenny brings a strong permaculture, native plants, and New American design sensibility to the firm. Zoe enjoys community-based design and the first question she asks when she visits a site or property is, "Where does the water go?"