Food A pollinator habitat garden is more than just flower beds. By providing an assortment of plants, which flower throughout the year, you are providing a consistent food supply which will encourage pollinating insects and birds to stay, feed, drink, shelter and even reproduce. It is recommended that you plant swathes or large patches of flowers, rather than scattering them randomly through the garden. By planting flowering food-crops in large patches, you encourage specialist pollinators such as bees to forage within these patches, cross pollinating the plants as they move efficiently from flower to flower.
Shelter The next thing you need to do is provide potential shelter. You can include hollow logs, pieces of thick bark and crowds of rocks which will provide shelter and nesting substrate for a variety of pollinators. Resin bees, leafcutter bees and solitary wasps will nest in large drilled holes in wood, which mimic the natural cavities produced by wood-boring insects. Hollow or pithy stems can be collected and bundled up when plants are pruned. These will attract reed bees and masked bees as well as small solitary wasps and ants. By providing small cavities in rockeries or with layers of rolled bark, you will be providing shelter for ladybeetles, resin bees and other pollinators.
In Australia, gardeners are encouraged to mulch their plants, to maintain soil moisture. However, some of our pollinators, such as solitary bees and wasps, nest in the ground and find it hard to dig through the thick layers of mulch. So leave an area of bare ground, at least a metre squared, to encourage ground-nesting bees into your garden.
Water is necessary for honey bees and birds so include a shallow bird bath, with a large rock in it to reduce the chances of insects drowning. A bowl filled with wet mud will provide minerals and water for some butterfly species and rocks provide insects with a warm place to bask.
Maintenance of your habitat garden is important if the plants and the pollinators are to thrive. Water deeply and regularly to ensure flowers produce plenty of nectar and pollen. Don’t use insecticides. If a plant is infested with many pests, it may need feeding, pruning or pulling out. A healthy garden will not only encourage pollinators, it will encourage wasps, shield bugs, spiders, dragonflies and other natural pest-predators. Keep the water and mud bowls topped up and place a seat out in the garden so you can sit, observe and enjoy your wonderful pollinator habitat garden.
Bee Hotel workshop – Upper Kedumba Bushcare Group November 2016
Birriban Katoomba High School Landcare, Upper Kedumba Bushcare, Central Park Bushcare and Leura Public School Swampcare all participated in activities to promote and encourage pollinator awareness and habitat.
Upper Kedumba Bushcare group hosted a pollinater habitat (Bee Hotel ) making workshop. Three types of habitats for different bee species were constructed and installed in appropriate places around the site. A simple hanging Bamboo home , an elegant bee box with asorted materials and entry sizes to enhance habitat variey and a sturdy mud home with besser blocks for ground dweling bees, such as our favorite, the Blue Banded Bee.
Some participants also made smaller versions to take home. The group reports that those installed on site already have evidence of happy occupants – within the month !! David Rae installed his “Bee Hilton” which he constructed prior to the day, and reported that he advanced his knowledge of the subject through the workshop. “The production of the clay infill for the blocks was a very useful exercise I think. I have since played around with this at home using a mix of Builders Clay, sand & soil” he said.
The final product!
Philip Nelson spent many hours preparing for the day and having materials ready so the group could simply construct and has written out a comprehensive “how to” information sheet. His advice to those planning a similar event is to construct some hotels first to work out what is best done prior to the day and what are the most suitable tools and materials to use.”
Central Parks Jo Goozeff found a lovely simple way to construct 4 bee hotels out of a hard wood log , these were quickly inhabited by resin bees , cuckoo and mud wasps all fantastic pollinators.
Making the clay bee hotel at Upper Kedumba Karen Reid, Hugh Todd, Judy Smith.
The Birriban Landcare students spent 3 months planning, preparing and making 5 very beautiful bee hotels. The day of installation was marked with a ribbon cutting by a group of school dignitaries and the planting of bee friendly plants in the Birriban habitat garden. Cheekily promoted as “the biggest hotel opening The Blue mountains has seen” the installation warranted an article in the Blue Mountains Gazette.
Leura Public School Swampcare Group celebrated Pollinator week by constructing a mixed material bee hotel in the bushland behind the school. Four students re-used an old wooden Antechinus nesting box as the hotel’s foundations and filled it with lengths of bamboo, various widths of holly stems (previously cut from the site) with holes of various widths drilled into them, tree fern stalks and eucalyptus bark. The hotel was then mounted on a cut stump of dead holly, making further good use of the weeds on site.
Leura Public School Bee Hotel. photo by Stephanie Chew
Pollinator week participants were surprised to learn that not only do native bees exist, but we have so many species (over 1500) in Australia. Like most people, the only bee species they were previously aware of was the European Honeybee and while honey is most appreciated, the role played by other pollinators is critical to a well-functioning ecosystem and crop production.
Come and join the Upper Kedumba Bushcare Group for a fun morning on Saturday 3 December 2016 between 8.30 and 12.30pm, and help enhance the Upper Kedumba area as a native bee friendly environment.
Our aim is to develop a holiday village for our little bee friends.
In this exciting new adventure for our group, we will bee building four different types of bee hotels. Classics such as Honeymoon Hotel, Swarm Inside, Beehome Soon and Beehive Yourself.
All lifestyle suites catered for the discerning pollinator.
As different species of native bees prefer different styles of accommodation, there will bee other types installed, such as high rise bee-bamboo, bee-nests and bee-blocks.
There will also be some landscaping, planting multi-coloured flowering natives, so they never have to go without some bloomin’ blossoms.
All materials will be provided, so we encourage volunteers to help out on the day, or just come along to see the diverse collection of structures being created and installed.
After that, sit back, relax and join us for a cuppa and cake, feeling you have been a good property developer with a warm fuzzy feeling inside and a buzzy feeling outside and knowing you have helped set in train the establishment of a bee-utiful environment.
RSVP by 1/12/16 Jane Anderson 4780 5623 email@example.com
Local resident Bronwen Roy, bee researcher and enthusiast from Western Sydney University will be hosting an Australian Pollinator Week event at the Glenbrook Native Plants Reserve (Great Western Highway, Glenbrook, opposite the Information Centre) . She will have a stingless bee hive, solitary bee hotels for sale and will conduct a pollinator count at 2 O’Clock in the afternoon.
Amphylaeus morosus courtesy of Megan Halcroft beesbusiness
You are invited to take part in a practical activity as part of Pollinators week.
We will be:
• Building a bee / insect hotel – using a collection of easily acquired nesting substrate such as hollow stems from garden prunings, pine cones, pre-drilled wooden blocks and layers of bark.
• Planting a pollinator garden – group activities planting flowering plants (native and exotic) to feed pollinators throughout the year.
• Catching and identifying some pollinators – using insect nets, jars, magnifying glasses, communication devices and cameras.
• Conducting a ‘wild pollinator count’ activity – demonstrating how to observe and count insects and entering data onto website. Such information can be shared with friends and family as well as schools and interest groups.
Conservation Education, specialising in native bees