Providing Housing for our Native Bees

Bees and all other critters need the same things we do:  food, housing for the family, and a safe place to live. Urban landscapes are often missing housing, a critical component.  You may be surprised at where some of them raise their young!  Please view this short video with beautiful images of a few native bees and the information on nesting resources.

You can help ensure diversity here in our own neighborhood by providing housing for native bees.  Many of our bees are solitary and need hollow plant stems or dead wood; some need only  a small patch of bare ground.  Most of our urban landscapes do not provide housing for native bees, but they should and it is easy to do.  Please note that ground nesting bees should not be feared since they are docile and solitary.  Please do not think of them as you do a swarm of aggressive yellow jackets.  Ground nesting bees usually build nests in the spring.  Click the image for more information. 

Mining Bee Nest

Did you know that it is possible to do harm by providing a bee house?  If not properly designed and maintained, bee houses can spread disease or make the larvae more accessible to predators.  If properly designed and cared for, bee houses can be beneficial and they provide an opportunity to observe bees.   Please read this before deciding to provide a nest box.

Want to learn more about our native bees?  We are offering a hardcopy of this booklet about our native bees to five people who live in or near the Reedy Creek Watershed and have read the Nesting Resources link and viewed the video. Names will be drawn on May 16 . Use our contact form to get your name in the hat.  Comment BOOKLET.  (The booklet is also availabe for download if you prefer.)

This post is dedicated to the memory of our friend and one of the founders of Reedy Creek Coalition, Robin Ruth. Her dying wish was “save the bees”, but we think she meant much more than that. Bees were just her project at the time. Robin cared deeply for the natural world from the soil teeming with life to the tops of the trees and every living thing between. We plan a series of posts with information about bees, birds, butterflies and perhaps other critters that need our help.

WHAT DO BEES NEED?

Bees and all other critters need the same things we do:  food, housing for the family, and a safe place to live.  Bees require nectar for themselves, pollen for their offspring.  Providing food is one of the best things we can do.  Here are our suggestions for BEE friendly yards and neighborhoods.

  • Please plant native species.  (Avoid cultivars.  Some do not produce as much pollen or nectar as the native species;  others limit access to food due to changes in petal arrangement or shape of the flower. )
  • Provide a variety of species that will bloom at different times.
  • Plant in groups of the same species.  A group of plants will attract more pollinators than individual plants scattered through the garden.
  • If you have limited space, work with your neighbors to create pollinator habitat with a variety of species on your block.
  • Learn about how plants containing a group of pesticides known as Neonicotinoids will harm bees and other pollinators.

Pollinator Plants for the Mid Atlantic *

*Not all plants on this list are native to our area. An example is the purple coneflower.  Digital Atlas of Virginia Flora  is a good reference for those who want to use plants specific for Central Virginia.  Refer to the map for each species.

Neonicotinoides

We would like to help support your efforts to feed the bees by offering a clump of Physostegia virginiana (obedient plant) to five people who live in or near the Reedy Creek Watershed and have read the two links above. Names will be drawn on May 9. Use our contact form to get your name in the hat.  Comment OBEDIENT PLANT.

This post is dedicated to the memory of our friend and one of the founders of Reedy Creek Coalition, Robin Ruth. Her dying wish was “save the bees”, but we think she meant much more than that. Bees were just her project at the time. Robin cared deeply for the natural world from the soil teeming with life to the tops of the trees and every living thing between. We plan a series of posts with information about bees, birds, butterflies and perhaps other critters that need our help.

A GHOST IN THE MAKING

This video, A Ghost in the Making, is about a bumble bee that was once common and is now nearly extinct. That decline has occurred right here in Virginia.

What we do in our yards is now more important than ever for water quality AND for ecosystem health. Your yard can be and should become part of a network of native plants that support the bees, birds, butterflies and others that are part of a complex and resilient ecosystem.  It is our hope that our neighborhood becomes a place where all properties do something to support that network and make it a great place to live.

We would like to help support that effort by offering a clump of mountain mint, a great pollinator plant, to five people who live in or near the Reedy Creek Watershed and have viewed the video. Names will be drawn on April 30th.  Use our contact form to get your name in the hat. Comment MOUNTAIN MINT.

The images below show just a few of the insect species that visit mountain mint.

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This post is dedicated to the memory of our friend and one of the founders of Reedy Creek Coalition, Robin Ruth. Her dying wish was “save the bees”, but we think she meant much more than that. Bees were just her project at the time. Robin cared deeply for the natural world from the soil teeming with life to the tops of the trees and every living thing between. We plan a series of posts with information about bees, birds, butterflies and perhaps other critters that need our help.