Native bees are wonderful pollinators. Most native Australian bees are solitary animals that you can easily attract to your garden by hanging up native bee hotels.
For those of you who liked the native bee home that Brisbane Edible Gardening made with the kids at the opening of the Samford Community Garden yesterday, here are the promised instructions so that you can all make one for your home garden.
Looking to attract more solitary native bees (particularly Reed Bees) to your garden. Look no further than that can you were about to throw into the recycling bin!
Step 1: Remove the label and wash the can so that it is nice and clean.
Step 2: Chop twigs so that they fit snugly into the can (lantana, tiger grass, umbrella tree stems and bamboo are all good alternatives).
Step 3: Once the can is tightly packed, firmly secure the can horizontally in a tree at about 1.5m off the ground in a protected spot.
Step 4: Wait for the bees to move in. It might take months, weeks or days but one day you will look in there to find some happy insects.
Other native bees prefer holes in wood as their homes. Homes for these native animals can be made by drilling holes in chopped up fallen branches. A variety of holes about 5-8mm in diameter works well here. Be sure not to drill the holes all the way through and ensure that the holes are at least 10-15cm deep.
Hang them in a sheltered position about 1m off the ground, with clear access to the drilled holes. Make sure the hotel is stable and won’t wobble as bees like a still home. Then sit back and watch the animals move in. It might take a week or several months but it will happen.
Filling your garden with flowing plants such as perennial basil, native plectranthus, Hovia, dogbane and fruit trees is also a great idea. Native bees are especially attracted to blue and yellow flowers.
Having a shallow saucer of water with rocks in so that the bees can get a drink and not drown is also very beneficial, especially during hot dry weather.