Bee Hotel Research

Photo Credit: Judith Cox;  Lydia removing one of the boxes

Judith makes observations, including on bee and wasp diversity, as part of research done by a PhD student, as the bee hotel is dismantled for the season.

While the weather is still incredibly mild, I am seeing many of the signs of autumn. Most of the trees have lost their leaves and the chickadees are so very busy at the feeder. My favourite thing to do at this time of year is to gather milkweed seeds and lift them up to the wind. I love to watch the soft, cottony seeds as they dance around me on their way to the ground. 

Healthy milkweed pods
Milkweed pods with seed

It’s the End of a Season for the Bee Hotel

On Saturday I had a visit from Lydia Wong. Lydia is the PhD student who installed various bee hotels in my yard along with a temperature gage. I love talking about bees and wasps with Lydia. She has been measuring and comparing bee and wasp cocoons in various places about the city and seeing how they react to climate change.

Near the roadside, Lydia installed a different box than the two in the backyard. She suspects that a mud-dauber wasp had used the box and will be opening it up to weigh and measure the cocoons. At the lab she will have a better opportunity to identify the creatures who had visited. This particular box has paper straws inserted into the holes and she has found that occasionally birds will pull them out. This happened in my box a few times.  One of the cocoons had eggs laid on it and she will grow out the eggs to identify the parasite. I find this whole procedure to be fascinating.

Bee hotel in the field
Bee hotel 

The bee hotel that was near my mulberry and crab apple trees had a few little cocoons in it. As you can see it has slots for the bees and wasps to enter and I can pull back the cover to peek as the outside walls are Plexiglas. We suspected that the stumps and logs nearby had proven to be more tempting as they provided a natural space for the bees and wasps to lay their eggs. 

Water Sources near the Bee Hotel

Lydia measured the distance from my small pond to both boxes, as proximity to water can be a factor. The box in the front yard is near many water sources as I have a birdbath and various containers of water on the ground. I have decided that my backyard needs more sources of water. The birdbath I have back there is not functioning that well as it has a hole. 

Bees and Wasps in the Bee Hotel

After taking the two boxes down it looks like I have been visited by leaf-cutter bees, mason bees and grass-carrying wasps. I am really happy with the diversity of my native bees and wasps and now am excited to prepare the area to attract even more! The grass-carrying wasps are a new one on me and apparently, they prefer a cooler area. I might have a cooler yard because I have more vegetation, but also being near a swamp does bring my garden temperature down.

Inside a bee hotel with all its levels and frames
Inside a bee hotel: the grassy bits are from that wasp

I loved spending time with Lydia and being able to help her with her research. It is so exciting to be a part of this as well as contributing to the growth of my environment. Enjoy your week.

Judith. (Email:  sghorticultural@gmail.com)  Veggie Bites are available at https://sghorticultural.wixsite.com/website or https://gardeningcalendar.ca/author/judith-cox/

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