Building Bee Hotels with Dr. Travis Prochaska (Transcript)

Jan 20, 2021 | 0 comments

so tonight I wanted to get into kind of expanding what we talked on last year so last year I had the opportunity to talk about and really introduce some of the common native species of bees that are alongside you in your gardens and your landscaping landscaping areas each and every day and this has become a very passionate topic for me over the last few years so I just kind of want to talk about what can we do to kind of conserve those populations and I really want to focus a good portion of this presentation really to building bee hotels some people know them as bee condom condos so that’s where they’re gonna go through here tonight I always like to start with this image here I know it looks kind of busy but it kind of brings together all the interesting aspects that are beneficial there’s not just our solitary bees but too many of our beneficial insects including that of like butterflies and ladybugs that may be in an area so we always want to think about what do we need to have at any given location that will help be a benefit to some of those beneficial insects of course we always want to think about one of the most important things probably that have a water source this can be as simple as a birdbath in the area maybe there’s a water fountain nearby I know here at the Master Gardener location here in the Minot’s area the mouse river the service river is literally right next door and serves as a good water location for many of our beneficial insects one of the other things to think about in any given area is there some sort of shelter nearby whether you’re a solitary bee or a ladybug on those hot days being able to escape the heat or even on those windy days this is North Dakota so it can be pretty windy from – time in this region so just having an area to get out of there perhaps one of the biggest things though is having multiple multiple at least two types of flowering plants that’s really in bloom throughout much the growing season so really from the late April early May going all the way through September maybe even early October having a food source nearby is going to be very important to help keeping them excited to be in that area so I really wanted to talk about some of the more basic stuff first and you know I talked about the water source already and I said this could be a as simple as a birdbath in the area and I just kind of want to take a quick moment to step back towards that bird backs bird baths work really good in any given landscaping area I just want to put a little bit of an asterisks on it places were standing water can be found from time to time I can actually draw any pest insect of course I’m thinking of mosquitoes I was reflecting back to 2019 and I know in the Norwich area West Nile virus was found in that area so we always have to think about you know when we do have a water source nearby how can we lower the chance of having a site where mosquitoes might flourish so one of the things we talk about from time to time is if you have our birdbath take away some of the surface area you can do that by adding some rocks to that birdbath that takes some of that depth away makes that water a little bit more shallow and a little bit less attractive to mosquitoes in that area one interesting thing I have found in the last month or so really on my Facebook page to be honest with you is some of those advertisements that kind of pop up on the side I’ve been seeing one that is a little bit bigger than a hockey puck me maybe two inches a little bit more cross in length or diameter has really been interesting on top it has like a solar panel on top and you set that in the middle of the birdbath and what that is is almost like a small water fountain so it kind of gets that water movement to come up an inch or two into the air and it kind of comes back down using that to put motion in the water can also be a big benefit to reducing an area for mosquito so because they tend to be drawn to areas with water that stationary so just having that little bit of motion could be there as we learned a year ago we can discuss some of those solitary bees and we talked about 70% of them are native ground dwellers I think oftentimes we think about the honeybees and some of the bumblebees that could be nearby and we know they’re above ground I think they sometimes are found in bee boxes that have been developed by honeybee farmers or growers in the area we think of bumble bees at some of those species tend to be above ground but 70% of our native bee populations are actually ground Weller’s so in any garden location in any landscaping area just making sure there’s some bare ground that’s available for them to make a small din remember most of our solitary native bees really are very non aggressive they it’s very rare for them to really stink so having them near a place to be able to make a cavity is going to be very important to them I am gonna say just kind of making sure some of that bare ground is a little bit raise it a little bit more we do know when we get some of those rain storms in the area we don’t want those bare spots and necessary be those draining areas where water is X keeping from that landscaping so that really leaves the other 30% that’s going to be the cavity dwellers and really for the bee hotels that’s what this is going to focus on they’re really cavity dwellers they’re going to look for areas like the bee hotel even in trees for example you might have a word picker in the years past maybe had some small cavities in the side of the tree in the past you might have had some small wood-boring beetles nearby that carve some small holes once those are abandoned some of these small native bees will actually occupy them and take them over and becoming important source for a shelter for some of these native bees one of the big questions I’m often asked at some of my demonstrations is it’s the end of the growing season what should we do with our our garden sites is it important to clean them out now is it important to maybe leave some of that debris behind for the next year I guess there’s kind of a two-fold answer and I’m gonna wear both hats here so I’m gonna first start with my agricultural hat of course I’m the crop protection specialist out of my night leaving some of that debris behind can be a place of protection for some of the pest insects of course I’m thinking uh something like flea beetles canola flea beetles that can impact members of the mustard family that gives a little bit of insulation to protect them there so that part of that makes you think well maybe we should clean it out but if I take that AG hat off and put the horticultural hat on I always suggest leaving some of that behind and of course it leaves a little bit of insulated layer here when I look on the right side here I see you know it looks like some of the lines beginning to green up I see some of the leaves on the trees but it looks like this person began to really clean that out at the end of the fall last year so that takes away a little bit of a layer of protection or insulation from some of those pollinators when I come to the left side I see a little bit more organic debris that has been left behind I know it’s not as eye-appealing as getting it cleaned up as you see on that right photo but a lot of those native pollinators they’re not too concerned about how it looks they’re really just concerned of is there that barrier there that could help it through in winter and some of these winters here in North Dakota can be harsh from time to time so just having that extra layer can be beneficial so again it’s kind of a juggling act for some insect pests it might be a bad thing to leave that behind but for our beneficials it’s really a good thing to leave behind so what is the last thing we could think about for native big conservation and that’s really going to be providing a bee hotel and that’s what I’m gonna focus on for much of tonight’s presentation I really always like to start off with this because one of the big questions I get is how big does it be hotel have to be does it have to be decent-sized can it be small what does it need to be made out of and so I like to always start this off with showing you some examples of some of them when I start up in the upper right a photo here you can see it looks like a person kind of just went out and kind of in a you know four or five inch segments kind of cut up a piece of a tree branch that was able to be hung up of course if I rotated that around you’d be able to see some of the drilled holes that have been made into the side of that and we’ll talk about why those holes are important here in a second as I move down a little bit you can see we’re getting a little bit more closer to the size of our birdhouse or maybe even a bird feeder in size of course you know different size holes is going to attract different types of our solitary bees and they’re not necessarily worried about who their neighbor is it doesn’t necessary to be all mason bees you might have a carpenter bee in one hole one right next door you might have a Blue Orchid bu they’re not too concerned about who their neighbor is so having an assortment of sizes there is going to be important and I’ll talk about the sizes here in a moment and the types that it really brings in when you look in that lower left photo towards the top of that feeder you see it looks like they’re straw that’s there you can almost see a wire mesh that’s pretty cross there so that triangular area is actually not necessarily there for the solitary bees like those lower areas are that’s actually there for some of our other beneficial insects so for example maybe a butterfly comes in they can insert their over positive or a Glenn device into that and lay eggs into that area it kind of just gives a little bit more protection for it to those eggs to be there in hatched later of course once they hatch they’ll leave this area more the an area where they can feed more just to show you how big they are when I moved to that upper left corner you can see this looks like a garden on top of a building here and you can see a pretty significant bee hotel there that’s been left behind that takes up a good portion of that wall I always like to show this photo up in the upper left here it’s just kind of that surprise you know kind of maybe that early-morning photo these temperatures warming up and he’s going to start becoming more active so you can just kind of see kind of bursting out of that bee hotel you can see a little bit of a e cover there on that hotel probably made of mud that is dried out here in time that was placed there for protection in time when I could jump down to the lower right you see another type of bee hotel one that’s made out of reeds that’s another option you can have for a bee hotel so you can have one made out reeds or bamboo compared to one that we saw in the last slide where it looked like a block of wood with several holes drilled in as I was kind of mentioned earlier I kind of came from that Nebraska area you know I was a farm kid growing up in eastern Nebraska one of the main things that seemed to be everywhere around our yard and many of our neighbors yards out on the farm was wood pallets so they just seemed to be everywhere and every spring they just seemed to come in by the dozens that we just never really knew what to do with them and I found it really interesting that in one of my research some other growers some farmers found it kind of an interesting way to bake a build a little bit of a bigger bee hotel there so you can almost see kind of a combination of both some of those blocks bee hotels that are there when I look towards the bottom I see some of those Reed’s that are implemented there too so something that always wondered growing up what do we do with this once some of our seed pallets arrive well this gives an interesting suggestion of what we can do with some of those wood pallets so let’s get into a little bit more detail here there are two types of bee hotels that really can be made available for purchase or that can be built one we have the one that’s kind of made out of block wood untreated wood always trying to say more to the untreated side we don’t know why some of those chemicals how they could interact with some of the bees coming in and out if there are chemicals associated with what it might actually detour them from it really ever being used on the right we have some of the hallowed Reed hotel some of that made out of bamboo you can see a lot of the holes there I can see some of the mud plugs that are kind of shined through the end so you can just see kind of the two different types here in my experience both of these work fairly well I’ve had a little bit more luck with number one here the untreated wood hotel I think that’s more probably because we have a little bit more control on the size of the holes that we have that we can input there compared to some of the reeds that you can purchase kind of what you purchase is kind of what you can offer similar solitary bee types so as I said you can kind of think about purchasing one or you can think about building one bee hotels are pretty common online everywhere from amazon to ebay i found it on walmart.com and there can be a wide range of price i’ve seen a much cheaper about $9.99 i’ve seen some of them get about fifty dollars some of them even more depending how elaborate and how big of one you’re looking for the other you can also find them in some stores Menards is one in the Minot area I see this really pop up usually about early March and they tend to have them in stock really getting to the early part of August typically the one I find out Walmart is that one made out of reeds it kind of gives a little bit of an interesting design they can put into it but that one’s about ten dollars at Menards when it’s available but what if we want to build some of these and you can have a lot of fun with building it so I’m going to kind of talk a little bit about both of them so one let’s start with a block of untreated wood here a size 5 to 8 inches that’s just kind of a base point where suggestion some of those blocks can be different sizes but it’s really going to be the diameter holes that you want to consider and really the depth of the holes that you want to consider so why is that so when I was at the University of Nebraska sitting my masters and PhD we had Aaron Auer we had Louise Lynch and dr. Golic there and they were kind of focusing in on citizen science projects and the bee hotel was one of them and you know over those years that I was there I bet you they made several thousand of these bee hotels that they sent up and tested different designs different holes and two things really would learn from that one the size of the diameter of the hole made a difference and the types of bees that came into it as well as the depth of the hole okay so when I look here I’ve given you the hole diameter in both inches and in millimeters so let’s start with like three thirty-seconds of an inch in diameter this really brought in some of the types of polyester solitary bees into the area as I jumped down I see a quarter of an inch in diameter this brought some different types of leaf-cutter bees to the area as well as some types of mason bees as you can see as you look up and down the mason bees and some of the other ones aren’t necessarily stuck to the quarter of an inch but they are also not going to attend or occupy all the different sizes so I see various mason bees really from 7/32 to 3/8 of an inch in diameter as I jump down to a half an inch Carter bees the Blue Orchid bees are really going to be some of those bigger solitary bees and they’re gonna occupy those the depth was also important so when you if you’re building one think about that debt so if you have a hole a quarter inch or less you went three to four inches deep if you’re larger than a quarter of an inch you went about five to six inches deep and I’ll talk about why that is here in a couple slides number two I’m getting to that hallow Reed you know a lot of times they kind of suggest bundle fifteen to twenty Reed’s or bamboo sticks together kind of make it a little bit more of a neighborhood if you will these are going to be a little bit longer just be about six to eight inches for those Reed’s for the deafness okay and as I said earlier when you buy some of those Reed’s there’s are those holes are kind of established for you you really don’t have the option to add change those in terms of the size so six eight inches for the hallowed reeds once you tie them together just make sure the backside or at least one it is closed this will prevent water during a rainstorm or something from moving through it and because if you have that happen to probably really not going to stick on so what should I do with the nesting box once this is made so you’re going to take this out and you’re gonna set it up in your garden area maybe even a landscaping area here it says three to six feet high really you’re going to determine this about where do you want to have this situated if you’re maybe in an orchard area you have blooming trees and you have this up it’s probably going to be a little bit high so think about where the blossom canopy is going to be have it about that height when you’re in a garden or a landscaping area that Heights probably gonna be a little bit lower so think about where those blossoms are have it facing east or south east especially this time of year is the perfect example to talk about this it can get nice and comfortable during the day temperature-wise but we’re so getting pretty cool overnight so when that Sun rises in the morning if it’s facing that southeasterly direction my son is kind of rising there and it’s gonna allow that box to begin heating up right away giving a little bit more activity to some of those bees the last thing to think about is make sure it’s situated or attached to something solid you want to make sure you camp that boxes are going to be blown around if that whole box is moving back and forth the bees probably won’t occupy so just make sure it’s on a stable surface so why we are talking about the death earlier I always like to show these photos on the right side this is a good example of why so not only of these holes a protection for them it allows them to begin laying eggs for the next year or so you can see one of the reeds cut open one of the blocks cut open so on the back side they’re like a mud wall there they lay an egg they put some food source there stories that egg hatches it can feed they build a mud wall on the other side of it to make a cell well they kind of repeat that over and over and over throughout much of that a hole that has been established and as you can see on that bottom right photo there’s like a quarter a half inch left on the very end where they plug it well that’s really for them to get out of the wind and out of when needed so they’ll eat a little bit of protecting for them but a lot of this is really to begin the movement to the next generation that will come the next year I say here I just want to leave this again with different varieties and types of hotels one question I usually get is what do I do with it B Hotel that I’ve had for multiple years do I need to clean it and the answer is yes every two to three years think about cleaning that wait probably for mid-may to come around that means the eggs that were there from the last year probably hatched and they probably begun to move out you can put some of this into Lake E water bleach solution so usually a TSP Clorox to about a gallon water you can let that soak if you’re noticing a discoloration or molds growing on it you know the inside of this is wood so you can actually toss that into an area that’s undisturbed it will kind of rot as nature would allow it to on its own and you can build your own Reed’s or new blocks insert inside of it the last question that usually comes up to me is what do I do in the wintertime can it stay outside or should I bring it indoors you can actually leave it outside these are native pollinators to the area they know it gets cold and you’re already providing them an extra couple layers of insulation by having them inside these boxes so they’ll be okay to be left outside if you bring it indoors it’s usually a lot warmer and you start to get the temperature begin to warm up and you can actually get them to become more active in your garage if you bring them inside finally just in case you are interested in more information you heard me talk about the research dr. doe Golic and some of his team did they’re about bee hotels this is from the university Nebraska just gives a little bit more information on the results that they found and provides a little bit more background information if you’d ever like to dig deeper traditionally I can Google search this with bee ho telling you right now and it’s usually about the first one that comes up so with that I would like to thank everyone for their attention tonight and I’m willing to fuel any questions ok thanks TJ we’ve got some questions for you how about are any of these bees destructive to the house or a wooden fence so the question being or the solitary bees destructive the answer is no oftentimes they really just come up to the bee house really them bringing in some of that mud or organic debris to make the cell walls it’s probably going to be as destructive as they ever get so they’re not really playing any damage to the wood or to the house there are some species like wasps that may have some impact but when it comes to the solitary bees that’s not really a big issue okay you mentioned about mosquitoes and bird baths do you have a recommendation about how often you should change the water in your birdbath to prevent the mosquito larvae from hatching okay so the recommendation is I would probably do it at least once a week that environmental play is gonna have a little bit of a determination on there I mean if it’s a lot harder you know that bird bath might be gonna dry out a lot quicker you know I have a water source but if it’s a little cooler if it’s been a little bit damp you might actually get that to be a little bit more cloudy and time inside so at least once a week but depending on the weather you might want to do that a little bit more often okay um how about in the cleaning of the hotels again when you clean that hotel do you clean out the individual holes in the box so that’s actually a really great question so I’ve I have seen some people that do take the time to clean it but you really don’t have to as the next generation emerges and they come to occupants the next year the B is gonna enter it to see if there’s actually anything in there is another specimen occupying it and if they find that it’s abandoned they will actually come through and begin to clean out those holes on their own and they’ll begin to set it up to situate it for themselves Oh TJ have you heard about giant wasp that is new to the United States and affecting our honeybees and crops and will that affect our wild bees have you heard about that giant wasp yes so this is I’m taking a guess you’re referring to the giant Asian Hornet that has really been a big deal in parts of Southeast Asia or southern Japan China and 2019 it was actually found in Vancouver Island in British Columbia Canada for the first time in December was found in Washington State for the first time we do know they can be destructive to be colonies a honeybee colony specifically they can bring down large honeybee colonies very quickly though a couple things to think about that are a little bit more calming one for them to really make it to North Dakota is probably going to be a very slim chance me maybe closer to none there really seem to drive in tropical more temperate regions we don’t really have that tropical fuel here they also like more the mountainous forests like regions so if on that small chance that would show up here or need help get in here however it really wouldn’t survive the winter here so for those of us here in North Dakota that should be a little bit more reassurance that it probably won’t be that huge of a deal if it did make it would be a very short term issue great that’s good news how always that’s always the nice silver lining about our brutal bitter cold winters keeps a lot of bad bugs away it’s 25 below I always I always feel good it’s all about furnace working TG how about does the color of the bee hotels make a difference okay so that’s an that’s an also an interesting question so a lot of the bee hotels here or of course I’ve shown you would ones and there are plastic ones that are available and some of them come in different colors there’s actually research out there that shows different types of insects come through different colors and oftentimes when we think about our or pollinators yellow and some of our lights are brighter colors tend to be some of their more favorite colors they don’t see color on the scale that you and I do it’s more greyed out so those bright colors or yellow and whites look more like a doll cream color to them so those tend to be some of the colors that are a little bit more apt to many different types of insects with that being said you can find plastic bee hotels in many different colors I know I have some in my office that are blue I know some that are yellow I’ve been kind of playing around with the plastic ones not really for the color thing because even some of the blue ones have been occupied I’ve been playing with the plastic ones trying to figure out what does heat do to it because if it gets too hot plastic is going to retain heat more than the wood so do they occupy it as well last year was the first year I did it and to be honest I had no use out of the plastic one last year but that might just been due to the place I had it set up so me changing it up this year will hopefully give us more answers to that okay how about it we have to worry about wasp then move into these hotels do they place the bees away no I’ve never come across that yet where they chased the bees away and a lot of times this has to do with when the solitary bees are active so once it gets into the 60s and 77 T’s during the day the bees really are not using the hotel they’re out in the landscaping areas pollinating and for the most part so are the wasps or if they’re going to interact with the wasp it’ll be out in those areas as this first a qualified night the wasps kind of go back to their areas their shelters and a lot of the solitary bees do the same so if there is an interaction we’ll probably the better chance we’ll be at the landscaping site than it would be at to be hotel how about are you aware of any like municipal zoning issues with these type of bee hotels and attracting them to maybe more like in urban areas could that be a problem that is actually a question I don’t know the answer to I’ve never come across any issues to this point at least not with city ordinances I know from time to time more housing associations I’ve heard some being some rules and things set up with those but when it comes to the cities and towns I have not come across that yet okay how about if like if a bee hotel is inside of a tree the activities of squirrels or Birds deter the bees okay so when it comes to birds birds probably might have a little bit more of a deterrent impact there than the squirrels however once again the the comfort there I guess will be just when everything is active you know during the day the bees really aren’t going to be there to notice that from time to time I know I’ve seen squirrels coming up to be hotels really trying to figure out what is it what’s going on but for the most part I’m not really seeing them mess with it other than that you know how about you know like a lot of these native bees are there ground nesters they make the little holes in the ground and this gardener sees those holes in the ground and they’re concerned like they’re she’s careful when she weeds not to disturb them but what about we want to use mulching does mulching affect the lifestyles of these bees these ground nesting bees so for the mulching part of this I think mulching using the mulching is fine the one thing is it like if you find the hole as already set maybe just keep keep giving a little bit of a buffer from where them the mulch so we’re not covering that back up but if you’ve put them all down beforehand it really should how much of an impact it will still find a way to make a cavity there okay um there’s a question about have you ever heard of heirloom honey I never heard that they’re like diesel the native bees make heirloom honey so I’ve never heard of actually myself but with the native bees native solitary bees actually do not make honey there we go okay so much for that or is there no benefits there are are these are these native bees aggressive but there’s a lot of people who are allergic to bees and then be very sensitive to putting off a bee hotel so the nice thing about the solitary native bees these are very calm bees it is rare not saying it can’t happen but it is pretty rare for them to sing I always think about the honeybees and some of the wasps those are they’re a little bit more cautious and alert of their areas but most of these solitary bees are pretty calm and relaxed and they tend to mind their own business so it’s been pretty rare that I’ve come across where the solitary bee is the one inflicting the steam okay how about the overwintering of bumble bees hmm any comments about that okay so the overwintering of bumble bees uh the bumble bees are actually the ground dwellers too so they have a shallow underground colony or again they don’t have colonies quite the size of honey bees oh honey bees can get hundreds in it typically a lot of these will be like thirty to fifty and again that that idea we talked about like with the landscaping if the Guardian has to start if you relieve some of that organic debris through the winter that is just another barrier underneath the snow and keeping in mind the snow packs as a thermal blanket as well we usually say for insects that get the snow before the bitter cold that’s a lot better than if we get the bitter cold first so that’s already something to think about is putting some of those extra layers or so if you leave that organic to breather that’ll just be a benefit to help them okay there’s a gardener who’s tried it this bee hotel she’s wounded a couple times but she still can’t get any success no dwellers so what do you advise as you keep trying try another location is there a tip about where’s the best place to put your bee hotel okay so I would be thinking about why is the kind of the environment that it’s in like I showed some of those bee hotels at the start like if I’m on the west side of the building for example that’s usually a place you know digging a mid-afternoon is probably the hottest part of the day it’s going to be a time of the day that gains a lot more heat it may not be as utilized as a result from that if it’s in an area that you know I always think back home um we did my parents never had the sprinklers that were underground they just pulled the hose around and moved it around if they set that up in the wrong spot where a showering that bee hotel that was another thing that kind of kept them away so kind of think about what your environment may look like that may or may not kind of defer them but temperatures might be the big one I’m thinking about is it in an area that may be holding a temperature there at the hottest part of the day there’s a gardener we’re back to mulching again and this person was thinking about the use of cedar wood chips because it has a natural insect repellent property so right the cedar so would that be suitable for a house foundation with that harm the the underground bees would that make a difference in the underground bees settling in that site if they use this cedar wood mulch that is a good question I’ve never run into that I’ve been into some areas some city wines where you can definitely say has the scented mulch there and some of those solitary bees are still pretty well findable there so in my experience I’ve not seen it where it has impacted that at least to this point ya know the emerald ash borer that’s not gonna go in these hotels right no it will not and luckily so far knock on word that we can keep it this time our support has not been found in North Dakota yet I know it’s been found in parts of Minnesota and just north up in the Winnipeg area so hopefully they can keep that in those regions and will ders escape that altogether but I’ve not heard of those interacting with the bee hotels how about there’s a lot of questions about Birds bird bass now are the how do bees and birds interact in a bird bath like are the birds are going to be a threat to the bees how do the how should we be protecting our are protecting our bees from harmful Birds at the bird bath well I could put up why are meshing above the bird bath or they’d all just get along in the in the big picture or for the most part they get along with each other pretty well the bees are not something that are typically attacked by the B so having the netting and stuff around is not going to be a really a big deal for the for the two interacting it’s not really going to stop the one from interacting and that for the most part they get along pretty well together mainly because they are able to fly pretty quickly and they’re a little bit smaller so they’re not as easily findable yeah I don’t think that’d be so ugly to have the wire machine on top here bird bath let’s write defeats the purpose but I don’t know if you know this Travis we’re really we’re all over the place you’ve got us with me we really generate a lot of questions interest here about fire glass rocks can you put them in a birdbath have you ever heard of that I’ve never heard of that have you heard of fire glass probably okay a glassy type of rock what do you think yep so I I have heard of the fire glass rocks those should not lead to an issue from the from the solitary be perspective so really the point of the rock like I said earlier so kind of take away some depth to make it look that a little bit less suitable to the immature larvae of the mosquito so the type of rock I’ve never really come across where that seems to have an impact on the solitary bees coming to it okay I think you’ve got all the questions wow that was a you generated an amazing amount of interest with your bee hotel hi hi Travis so we greatly appreciate your presentation tonight thank you yeah no problem so tonight I wanted to get into kind of expanding what we talked on last year so last year I had the opportunity to talk about and really introduce some of the common native species of bees that are alongside you in your gardens and your landscaping landscaping areas each and every day and this has become a very passionate topic for me over the last few years so I just kind of want to talk about what can we do to kind of conserve those populations and I really want to focus a good portion of this presentation really to building bee hotels some people know them as bee condom condos so that’s where they’re gonna go through here tonight I always like to start with this image here I know it looks kind of busy but it kind of brings together all the interesting aspects that are beneficial there’s not just our solitary bees but too many of our beneficial insects including that of like butterflies and ladybugs that may be in an area so we always want to think about what do we need to have at any given location that will help be a benefit to some of those beneficial insects of course we always want to think about one of the most important things probably that have a water source this can be as simple as a birdbath in the area maybe there’s a water fountain nearby I know here at the Master Gardener location here in the Minot’s area the mouse river the service river is literally right next door and serves as a good water location for many of our beneficial insects one of the other things to think about in any given area is there some sort of shelter nearby whether you’re a solitary bee or a ladybug on those hot days being able to escape the heat or even on those windy days this is North Dakota so it can be pretty windy from – time in this region so just having an area to get out of there perhaps one of the biggest things though is having multiple multiple at least two types of flowering plants that’s really in bloom throughout much the growing season so really from the late April early May going all the way through September maybe even early October having a food source nearby is going to be very important to help keeping them excited to be in that area so I really wanted to talk about some of the more basic stuff first and you know I talked about the water source already and I said this could be a as simple as a birdbath in the area and I just kind of want to take a quick moment to step back towards that bird backs bird baths work really good in any given landscaping area I just want to put a little bit of an asterisks on it places were standing water can be found from time to time I can actually draw any pest insect of course I’m thinking of mosquitoes I was reflecting back to 2019 and I know in the Norwich area West Nile virus was found in that area so we always have to think about you know when we do have a water source nearby how can we lower the chance of having a site where mosquitoes might flourish so one of the things we talk about from time to time is if you have our birdbath take away some of the surface area you can do that by adding some rocks to that birdbath that takes some of that depth away makes that water a little bit more shallow and a little bit less attractive to mosquitoes in that area one interesting thing I have found in the last month or so really on my Facebook page to be honest with you is some of those advertisements that kind of pop up on the side I’ve been seeing one that is a little bit bigger than a hockey puck me maybe two inches a little bit more cross in length or diameter has really been interesting on top it has like a solar panel on top and you set that in the middle of the birdbath and what that is is almost like a small water fountain so it kind of gets that water movement to come up an inch or two into the air and it kind of comes back down using that to put motion in the water can also be a big benefit to reducing an area for mosquito so because they tend to be drawn to areas with water that stationary so just having that little bit of motion could be there as we learned a year ago we can discuss some of those solitary bees and we talked about 70% of them are native ground dwellers I think oftentimes we think about the honeybees and some of the bumblebees that could be nearby and we know they’re above ground I think they sometimes are found in bee boxes that have been developed by honeybee farmers or growers in the area we think of bumble bees at some of those species tend to be above ground but 70% of our native bee populations are actually ground Weller’s so in any garden location in any landscaping area just making sure there’s some bare ground that’s available for them to make a small din remember most of our solitary native bees really are very non aggressive they it’s very rare for them to really stink so having them near a place to be able to make a cavity is going to be very important to them I am gonna say just kind of making sure some of that bare ground is a little bit raise it a little bit more we do know when we get some of those rain storms in the area we don’t want those bare spots and necessary be those draining areas where water is X keeping from that landscaping so that really leaves the other 30% that’s going to be the cavity dwellers and really for the bee hotels that’s what this is going to focus on they’re really cavity dwellers they’re going to look for areas like the bee hotel even in trees for example you might have a word picker in the years past maybe had some small cavities in the side of the tree in the past you might have had some small wood-boring beetles nearby that carve some small holes once those are abandoned some of these small native bees will actually occupy them and take them over and becoming important source for a shelter for some of these native bees one of the big questions I’m often asked at some of my demonstrations is it’s the end of the growing season what should we do with our our garden sites is it important to clean them out now is it important to maybe leave some of that debris behind for the next year I guess there’s kind of a two-fold answer and I’m gonna wear both hats here so I’m gonna first start with my agricultural hat of course I’m the crop protection specialist out of my night leaving some of that debris behind can be a place of protection for some of the pest insects of course I’m thinking uh something like flea beetles canola flea beetles that can impact members of the mustard family that gives a little bit of insulation to protect them there so that part of that makes you think well maybe we should clean it out but if I take that AG hat off and put the horticultural hat on I always suggest leaving some of that behind and of course it leaves a little bit of insulated layer here when I look on the right side here I see you know it looks like some of the lines beginning to green up I see some of the leaves on the trees but it looks like this person began to really clean that out at the end of the fall last year so that takes away a little bit of a layer of protection or insulation from some of those pollinators when I come to the left side I see a little bit more organic debris that has been left behind I know it’s not as eye-appealing as getting it cleaned up as you see on that right photo but a lot of those native pollinators they’re not too concerned about how it looks they’re really just concerned of is there that barrier there that could help it through in winter and some of these winters here in North Dakota can be harsh from time to time so just having that extra layer can be beneficial so again it’s kind of a juggling act for some insect pests it might be a bad thing to leave that behind but for our beneficials it’s really a good thing to leave behind so what is the last thing we could think about for native big conservation and that’s really going to be providing a bee hotel and that’s what I’m gonna focus on for much of tonight’s presentation I really always like to start off with this because one of the big questions I get is how big does it be hotel have to be does it have to be decent-sized can it be small what does it need to be made out of and so I like to always start this off with showing you some examples of some of them when I start up in the upper right a photo here you can see it looks like a person kind of just went out and kind of in a you know four or five inch segments kind of cut up a piece of a tree branch that was able to be hung up of course if I rotated that around you’d be able to see some of the drilled holes that have been made into the side of that and we’ll talk about why those holes are important here in a second as I move down a little bit you can see we’re getting a little bit more closer to the size of our birdhouse or maybe even a bird feeder in size of course you know different size holes is going to attract different types of our solitary bees and they’re not necessarily worried about who their neighbor is it doesn’t necessary to be all mason bees you might have a carpenter bee in one hole one right next door you might have a Blue Orchid bu they’re not too concerned about who their neighbor is so having an assortment of sizes there is going to be important and I’ll talk about the sizes here in a moment and the types that it really brings in when you look in that lower left photo towards the top of that feeder you see it looks like they’re straw that’s there you can almost see a wire mesh that’s pretty cross there so that triangular area is actually not necessarily there for the solitary bees like those lower areas are that’s actually there for some of our other beneficial insects so for example maybe a butterfly comes in they can insert their over positive or a Glenn device into that and lay eggs into that area it kind of just gives a little bit more protection for it to those eggs to be there in hatched later of course once they hatch they’ll leave this area more the an area where they can feed more just to show you how big they are when I moved to that upper left corner you can see this looks like a garden on top of a building here and you can see a pretty significant bee hotel there that’s been left behind that takes up a good portion of that wall I always like to show this photo up in the upper left here it’s just kind of that surprise you know kind of maybe that early-morning photo these temperatures warming up and he’s going to start becoming more active so you can just kind of see kind of bursting out of that bee hotel you can see a little bit of a e cover there on that hotel probably made of mud that is dried out here in time that was placed there for protection in time when I could jump down to the lower right you see another type of bee hotel one that’s made out of reeds that’s another option you can have for a bee hotel so you can have one made out reeds or bamboo compared to one that we saw in the last slide where it looked like a block of wood with several holes drilled in as I was kind of mentioned earlier I kind of came from that Nebraska area you know I was a farm kid growing up in eastern Nebraska one of the main things that seemed to be everywhere around our yard and many of our neighbors yards out on the farm was wood pallets so they just seemed to be everywhere and every spring they just seemed to come in by the dozens that we just never really knew what to do with them and I found it really interesting that in one of my research some other growers some farmers found it kind of an interesting way to bake a build a little bit of a bigger bee hotel there so you can almost see kind of a combination of both some of those blocks bee hotels that are there when I look towards the bottom I see some of those Reed’s that are implemented there too so something that always wondered growing up what do we do with this once some of our seed pallets arrive well this gives an interesting suggestion of what we can do with some of those wood pallets so let’s get into a little bit more detail here there are two types of bee hotels that really can be made available for purchase or that can be built one we have the one that’s kind of made out of block wood untreated wood always trying to say more to the untreated side we don’t know why some of those chemicals how they could interact with some of the bees coming in and out if there are chemicals associated with what it might actually detour them from it really ever being used on the right we have some of the hallowed Reed hotel some of that made out of bamboo you can see a lot of the holes there I can see some of the mud plugs that are kind of shined through the end so you can just see kind of the two different types here in my experience both of these work fairly well I’ve had a little bit more luck with number one here the untreated wood hotel I think that’s more probably because we have a little bit more control on the size of the holes that we have that we can input there compared to some of the reeds that you can purchase kind of what you purchase is kind of what you can offer similar solitary bee types so as I said you can kind of think about purchasing one or you can think about building one bee hotels are pretty common online everywhere from amazon to ebay i found it on walmart.com and there can be a wide range of price i’ve seen a much cheaper about $9.99 i’ve seen some of them get about fifty dollars some of them even more depending how elaborate and how big of one you’re looking for the other you can also find them in some stores Menards is one in the Minot area I see this really pop up usually about early March and they tend to have them in stock really getting to the early part of August typically the one I find out Walmart is that one made out of reeds it kind of gives a little bit of an interesting design they can put into it but that one’s about ten dollars at Menards when it’s available but what if we want to build some of these and you can have a lot of fun with building it so I’m going to kind of talk a little bit about both of them so one let’s start with a block of untreated wood here a size 5 to 8 inches that’s just kind of a base point where suggestion some of those blocks can be different sizes but it’s really going to be the diameter holes that you want to consider and really the depth of the holes that you want to consider so why is that so when I was at the University of Nebraska sitting my masters and PhD we had Aaron Auer we had Louise Lynch and dr. Golic there and they were kind of focusing in on citizen science projects and the bee hotel was one of them and you know over those years that I was there I bet you they made several thousand of these bee hotels that they sent up and tested different designs different holes and two things really would learn from that one the size of the diameter of the hole made a difference and the types of bees that came into it as well as the depth of the hole okay so when I look here I’ve given you the hole diameter in both inches and in millimeters so let’s start with like three thirty-seconds of an inch in diameter this really brought in some of the types of polyester solitary bees into the area as I jumped down I see a quarter of an inch in diameter this brought some different types of leaf-cutter bees to the area as well as some types of mason bees as you can see as you look up and down the mason bees and some of the other ones aren’t necessarily stuck to the quarter of an inch but they are also not going to attend or occupy all the different sizes so I see various mason bees really from 7/32 to 3/8 of an inch in diameter as I jump down to a half an inch Carter bees the Blue Orchid bees are really going to be some of those bigger solitary bees and they’re gonna occupy those the depth was also important so when you if you’re building one think about that debt so if you have a hole a quarter inch or less you went three to four inches deep if you’re larger than a quarter of an inch you went about five to six inches deep and I’ll talk about why that is here in a couple slides number two I’m getting to that hallow Reed you know a lot of times they kind of suggest bundle fifteen to twenty Reed’s or bamboo sticks together kind of make it a little bit more of a neighborhood if you will these are going to be a little bit longer just be about six to eight inches for those Reed’s for the deafness okay and as I said earlier when you buy some of those Reed’s there’s are those holes are kind of established for you you really don’t have the option to add change those in terms of the size so six eight inches for the hallowed reeds once you tie them together just make sure the backside or at least one it is closed this will prevent water during a rainstorm or something from moving through it and because if you have that happen to probably really not going to stick on so what should I do with the nesting box once this is made so you’re going to take this out and you’re gonna set it up in your garden area maybe even a landscaping area here it says three to six feet high really you’re going to determine this about where do you want to have this situated if you’re maybe in an orchard area you have blooming trees and you have this up it’s probably going to be a little bit high so think about where the blossom canopy is going to be have it about that height when you’re in a garden or a landscaping area that Heights probably gonna be a little bit lower so think about where those blossoms are have it facing east or south east especially this time of year is the perfect example to talk about this it can get nice and comfortable during the day temperature-wise but we’re so getting pretty cool overnight so when that Sun rises in the morning if it’s facing that southeasterly direction my son is kind of rising there and it’s gonna allow that box to begin heating up right away giving a little bit more activity to some of those bees the last thing to think about is make sure it’s situated or attached to something solid you want to make sure you camp that boxes are going to be blown around if that whole box is moving back and forth the bees probably won’t occupy so just make sure it’s on a stable surface so why we are talking about the death earlier I always like to show these photos on the right side this is a good example of why so not only of these holes a protection for them it allows them to begin laying eggs for the next year or so you can see one of the reeds cut open one of the blocks cut open so on the back side they’re like a mud wall there they lay an egg they put some food source there stories that egg hatches it can feed they build a mud wall on the other side of it to make a cell well they kind of repeat that over and over and over throughout much of that a hole that has been established and as you can see on that bottom right photo there’s like a quarter a half inch left on the very end where they plug it well that’s really for them to get out of the wind and out of when needed so they’ll eat a little bit of protecting for them but a lot of this is really to begin the movement to the next generation that will come the next year I say here I just want to leave this again with different varieties and types of hotels one question I usually get is what do I do with it B Hotel that I’ve had for multiple years do I need to clean it and the answer is yes every two to three years think about cleaning that wait probably for mid-may to come around that means the eggs that were there from the last year probably hatched and they probably begun to move out you can put some of this into Lake E water bleach solution so usually a TSP Clorox to about a gallon water you can let that soak if you’re noticing a discoloration or molds growing on it you know the inside of this is wood so you can actually toss that into an area that’s undisturbed it will kind of rot as nature would allow it to on its own and you can build your own Reed’s or new blocks insert inside of it the last question that usually comes up to me is what do I do in the wintertime can it stay outside or should I bring it indoors you can actually leave it outside these are native pollinators to the area they know it gets cold and you’re already providing them an extra couple layers of insulation by having them inside these boxes so they’ll be okay to be left outside if you bring it indoors it’s usually a lot warmer and you start to get the temperature begin to warm up and you can actually get them to become more active in your garage if you bring them inside finally just in case you are interested in more information you heard me talk about the research dr. doe Golic and some of his team did they’re about bee hotels this is from the university Nebraska just gives a little bit more information on the results that they found and provides a little bit more background information if you’d ever like to dig deeper traditionally I can Google search this with bee ho telling you right now and it’s usually about the first one that comes up so with that I would like to thank everyone for their attention tonight and I’m willing to fuel any questions ok thanks TJ we’ve got some questions for you how about are any of these bees destructive to the house or a wooden fence so the question being or the solitary bees destructive the answer is no oftentimes they really just come up to the bee house really them bringing in some of that mud or organic debris to make the cell walls it’s probably going to be as destructive as they ever get so they’re not really playing any damage to the wood or to the house there are some species like wasps that may have some impact but when it comes to the solitary bees that’s not really a big issue okay you mentioned about mosquitoes and bird baths do you have a recommendation about how often you should change the water in your birdbath to prevent the mosquito larvae from hatching okay so the recommendation is I would probably do it at least once a week that environmental play is gonna have a little bit of a determination on there I mean if it’s a lot harder you know that bird bath might be gonna dry out a lot quicker you know I have a water source but if it’s a little cooler if it’s been a little bit damp you might actually get that to be a little bit more cloudy and time inside so at least once a week but depending on the weather you might want to do that a little bit more often okay um how about in the cleaning of the hotels again when you clean that hotel do you clean out the individual holes in the box so that’s actually a really great question so I’ve I have seen some people that do take the time to clean it but you really don’t have to as the next generation emerges and they come to occupants the next year the B is gonna enter it to see if there’s actually anything in there is another specimen occupying it and if they find that it’s abandoned they will actually come through and begin to clean out those holes on their own and they’ll begin to set it up to situate it for themselves Oh TJ have you heard about giant wasp that is new to the United States and affecting our honeybees and crops and will that affect our wild bees have you heard about that giant wasp yes so this is I’m taking a guess you’re referring to the giant Asian Hornet that has really been a big deal in parts of Southeast Asia or southern Japan China and 2019 it was actually found in Vancouver Island in British Columbia Canada for the first time in December was found in Washington State for the first time we do know they can be destructive to be colonies a honeybee colony specifically they can bring down large honeybee colonies very quickly though a couple things to think about that are a little bit more calming one for them to really make it to North Dakota is probably going to be a very slim chance me maybe closer to none there really seem to drive in tropical more temperate regions we don’t really have that tropical fuel here they also like more the mountainous forests like regions so if on that small chance that would show up here or need help get in here however it really wouldn’t survive the winter here so for those of us here in North Dakota that should be a little bit more reassurance that it probably won’t be that huge of a deal if it did make it would be a very short term issue great that’s good news how always that’s always the nice silver lining about our brutal bitter cold winters keeps a lot of bad bugs away it’s 25 below I always I always feel good it’s all about furnace working TG how about does the color of the bee hotels make a difference okay so that’s an that’s an also an interesting question so a lot of the bee hotels here or of course I’ve shown you would ones and there are plastic ones that are available and some of them come in different colors there’s actually research out there that shows different types of insects come through different colors and oftentimes when we think about our or pollinators yellow and some of our lights are brighter colors tend to be some of their more favorite colors they don’t see color on the scale that you and I do it’s more greyed out so those bright colors or yellow and whites look more like a doll cream color to them so those tend to be some of the colors that are a little bit more apt to many different types of insects with that being said you can find plastic bee hotels in many different colors I know I have some in my office that are blue I know some that are yellow I’ve been kind of playing around with the plastic ones not really for the color thing because even some of the blue ones have been occupied I’ve been playing with the plastic ones trying to figure out what does heat do to it because if it gets too hot plastic is going to retain heat more than the wood so do they occupy it as well last year was the first year I did it and to be honest I had no use out of the plastic one last year but that might just been due to the place I had it set up so me changing it up this year will hopefully give us more answers to that okay how about it we have to worry about wasp then move into these hotels do they place the bees away no I’ve never come across that yet where they chased the bees away and a lot of times this has to do with when the solitary bees are active so once it gets into the 60s and 77 T’s during the day the bees really are not using the hotel they’re out in the landscaping areas pollinating and for the most part so are the wasps or if they’re going to interact with the wasp it’ll be out in those areas as this first a qualified night the wasps kind of go back to their areas their shelters and a lot of the solitary bees do the same so if there is an interaction we’ll probably the better chance we’ll be at the landscaping site than it would be at to be hotel how about are you aware of any like municipal zoning issues with these type of bee hotels and attracting them to maybe more like in urban areas could that be a problem that is actually a question I don’t know the answer to I’ve never come across any issues to this point at least not with city ordinances I know from time to time more housing associations I’ve heard some being some rules and things set up with those but when it comes to the cities and towns I have not come across that yet okay how about if like if a bee hotel is inside of a tree the activities of squirrels or Birds deter the bees okay so when it comes to birds birds probably might have a little bit more of a deterrent impact there than the squirrels however once again the the comfort there I guess will be just when everything is active you know during the day the bees really aren’t going to be there to notice that from time to time I know I’ve seen squirrels coming up to be hotels really trying to figure out what is it what’s going on but for the most part I’m not really seeing them mess with it other than that you know how about you know like a lot of these native bees are there ground nesters they make the little holes in the ground and this gardener sees those holes in the ground and they’re concerned like they’re she’s careful when she weeds not to disturb them but what about we want to use mulching does mulching affect the lifestyles of these bees these ground nesting bees so for the mulching part of this I think mulching using the mulching is fine the one thing is it like if you find the hole as already set maybe just keep keep giving a little bit of a buffer from where them the mulch so we’re not covering that back up but if you’ve put them all down beforehand it really should how much of an impact it will still find a way to make a cavity there okay um there’s a question about have you ever heard of heirloom honey I never heard that they’re like diesel the native bees make heirloom honey so I’ve never heard of actually myself but with the native bees native solitary bees actually do not make honey there we go okay so much for that or is there no benefits there are are these are these native bees aggressive but there’s a lot of people who are allergic to bees and then be very sensitive to putting off a bee hotel so the nice thing about the solitary native bees these are very calm bees it is rare not saying it can’t happen but it is pretty rare for them to sing I always think about the honeybees and some of the wasps those are they’re a little bit more cautious and alert of their areas but most of these solitary bees are pretty calm and relaxed and they tend to mind their own business so it’s been pretty rare that I’ve come across where the solitary bee is the one inflicting the steam okay how about the overwintering of bumble bees hmm any comments about that okay so the overwintering of bumble bees uh the bumble bees are actually the ground dwellers too so they have a shallow underground colony or again they don’t have colonies quite the size of honey bees oh honey bees can get hundreds in it typically a lot of these will be like thirty to fifty and again that that idea we talked about like with the landscaping if the Guardian has to start if you relieve some of that organic debris through the winter that is just another barrier underneath the snow and keeping in mind the snow packs as a thermal blanket as well we usually say for insects that get the snow before the bitter cold that’s a lot better than if we get the bitter cold first so that’s already something to think about is putting some of those extra layers or so if you leave that organic to breather that’ll just be a benefit to help them okay there’s a gardener who’s tried it this bee hotel she’s wounded a couple times but she still can’t get any success no dwellers so what do you advise as you keep trying try another location is there a tip about where’s the best place to put your bee hotel okay so I would be thinking about why is the kind of the environment that it’s in like I showed some of those bee hotels at the start like if I’m on the west side of the building for example that’s usually a place you know digging a mid-afternoon is probably the hottest part of the day it’s going to be a time of the day that gains a lot more heat it may not be as utilized as a result from that if it’s in an area that you know I always think back home um we did my parents never had the sprinklers that were underground they just pulled the hose around and moved it around if they set that up in the wrong spot where a showering that bee hotel that was another thing that kind of kept them away so kind of think about what your environment may look like that may or may not kind of defer them but temperatures might be the big one I’m thinking about is it in an area that may be holding a temperature there at the hottest part of the day there’s a gardener we’re back to mulching again and this person was thinking about the use of cedar wood chips because it has a natural insect repellent property so right the cedar so would that be suitable for a house foundation with that harm the the underground bees would that make a difference in the underground bees settling in that site if they use this cedar wood mulch that is a good question I’ve never run into that I’ve been into some areas some city wines where you can definitely say has the scented mulch there and some of those solitary bees are still pretty well findable there so in my experience I’ve not seen it where it has impacted that at least to this point ya know the emerald ash borer that’s not gonna go in these hotels right no it will not and luckily so far knock on word that we can keep it this time our support has not been found in North Dakota yet I know it’s been found in parts of Minnesota and just north up in the Winnipeg area so hopefully they can keep that in those regions and will ders escape that altogether but I’ve not heard of those interacting with the bee hotels how about there’s a lot of questions about Birds bird bass now are the how do bees and birds interact in a bird bath like are the birds are going to be a threat to the bees how do the how should we be protecting our are protecting our bees from harmful Birds at the bird bath well I could put up why are meshing above the bird bath or they’d all just get along in the in the big picture or for the most part they get along with each other pretty well the bees are not something that are typically attacked by the B so having the netting and stuff around is not going to be a really a big deal for the for the two interacting it’s not really going to stop the one from interacting and that for the most part they get along pretty well together mainly because they are able to fly pretty quickly and they’re a little bit smaller so they’re not as easily findable yeah I don’t think that’d be so ugly to have the wire machine on top here bird bath let’s write defeats the purpose but I don’t know if you know this Travis we’re really we’re all over the place you’ve got us with me we really generate a lot of questions interest here about fire glass rocks can you put them in a birdbath have you ever heard of that I’ve never heard of that have you heard of fire glass probably okay a glassy type of rock what do you think yep so I I have heard of the fire glass rocks those should not lead to an issue from the from the solitary be perspective so really the point of the rock like I said earlier so kind of take away some depth to make it look that a little bit less suitable to the immature larvae of the mosquito so the type of rock I’ve never really come across where that seems to have an impact on the solitary bees coming to it okay I think you’ve got all the questions wow that was a you generated an amazing amount of interest with your bee hotel hi hi Travis so we greatly appreciate your presentation tonight thank you yeah no problem

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