Saturday, 17 May 2014

Going Like Hot Cakes

Remember this?
I placed the little bee chalet on one of our sunniest house walls three weeks ago hoping for some visitors. Today I was delighted to discover this:-
We have 25% occupancy already 
All of these tunnels now contain lots of eggs laid by a female solitary bee and then sealed in by her. The sealing material is fibrous - chewed up assorted vegetation and mud.
Apparently female eggs are laid at the far end of the tunnel along with some pollen for the bee larvae to eat when it hatches, and then sealed in before laying the next egg. The male eggs are laid at the entrance to the tunnel so that they emerge first in the spring. I have also discovered that I need to place the chalet somewhere dry during the autumn where they will be safe from rainy weather and not succumb to parasites or fungi. The young bees will stay dormant in the tunnels during the winter then leave in the spring.
Until I did a bit of research I did not realise that it was going to take a whole year for the cycle to be completed.
Next April the chalet tunnels will have to be cleaned out with a stiff brush ready for the process to begin again.
There is much more to this than I originally imagined, but our gardens should be the beneficiaries - lots more fruit, flowers, and vegetables.
UPDATE
Caught in the act sealing up tunnel No. 7
p.s Female bees hatch from fertilised eggs, males from unfertilised eggs

56 comments:

  1. Dear Rosemary, How thrilling that the bees like your accommodations, which you have provided for them. How wonderful it will be to watch them do what bees do. We have about forty boxes of bees in the next field. They all come over to our fruit trees and flower beds and their honey is delicious.

    And yes I am almost finished with my large consignment... only waiting for last decisions to be made by the architect. In the meantime I have been busy painting for our annual Heritage Day Celebrations. In between I try to get our 3 vegetable gardens seeded and planted and then there are all the flower beds and flower pots to plant. ox, Gina

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    1. Dear Gina - I was very excited when I discovered what the solitary bees had been up to in the little chalet - I had not noticed them coming and going. These bees are unlike honey bees who live in hives, there is no honey from them, I am just providing them with a breeding ground.
      What a busy time you are having, hopefully soon you will be able to relax a little. Good luck with the Heritage Day Celebrations, and hope the architect is happy with all that you have done.

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  2. I can imagine how excited you are..... I suspect you have been checking out the occupancy rate every day ! I hope to hear about further residents and what they get up to in future posts.

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    1. Dear Janice - I had glanced at the chalet from time to time but hadn't noticed any difference - it wasn't until I peered closely today that I noticed the tunnels had been filled up, it is not easy to see from a distance. They have obviously been very busy coming and going without me realising it.
      Of course, I am absolutely delighted that they have discovered the chalet - what clever little things!

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  3. Dear Rosemary, such a wonderful story of how these bees build nesting sites and procreate in such a fastidious manner. It is a long process though and will take up your time making sure they relocated correctly to remain safe and dry. Worthwhile though knowing they will eventually help pollinate your garden. Bees are in danger due to many factors - and needless to say we are one of them taking their natural habitats away and using pesticides!
    Thanks for the lovely story - read as I sit here watching a carpenter bee drilling into my porch rail to make a nest!

    Happy weekend - sounds like England is getting some warm days now!
    Mary x

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    1. Dear Mary - I was thrilled to make the discovery this morning - they have been very busy and I didn't even notice. I have been reading all about what I need to do to make sure that I care for them properly. I have to relocate the chalet to somewhere that will keep it dry during the winter months. I shall put them in our porch, which will be perfect as they will still have access to the outside to fly away as and when they are ready. Then the whole procedure will begin again.
      Lovely that you are able to watch the carpenter bees in your porch, sounds an ideal spot for them.
      The weather is gorgeous, just perfect May weather.
      Glad you enjoyed hearing about them - enjoy your weekend too.

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  4. That is so interesting, Rosemary. I have seen such little houses for sale here, as well, but didn't know anything about them. I hope you'll post more photos as things change around the wee bee house.

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    1. Dear Pondside - I do not think that there will be much action to see. Once the female bee has done her job i.e laid the eggs, and got them all cosy and snug in the tunnels her task is done and she dies. She lives for about 6 - 8 weeks gathering pollen from the blossom and laying her eggs. I am not sure how long the male live.
      The little chalet will just remain sealed up with its precious cargo inside until the new bees 'break out' around the time of next years apple blossom.

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  5. Well done Rosemary. How exciting. I went to my Weavers , Spinners and Dyers Guild meeting today and bought some honey from an elderly gent there who has been keeping bees for over 50 years. I asked him if I could come and 'help' him sometime. I find bees totally fascinating.

    jean x

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    1. Dear Jean - Bees are fascinating, however, these solitary bees are a completely different kettle of fish to the honeybee which, I personally could never cope with. The solitary bee just gets on with doing their own thing, pollinating, and then reproducing.

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  6. Nice chalets but I don't like bees.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. If you leave them alone they will not harm you.

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  7. Dear Rosemary,

    This is so exciting to see, and I can imagine that you're going to end up feeling like a godmother to the bees that emerge. I always find it fascinating how all the species know innately how to further themselves. And, as you have suggested, I do believe that you will be gifted by your bees in ways that will surprise and delight.

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    1. Dear Mark - I was so excited when I discovered that they had found the chalet this morning. They must have been so busy and we hadn't even noticed. It must require hundreds of trips to collect enough material to seal each egg in and then close off the tunnel.
      I shall be watching carefully from now on - nature is brilliant.

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  8. We didn't eat coca leave, but used concentrated pills and drunk coca tea.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. I am sure that was the best thing to do.

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  9. Lucky you to have tenants in you lovely bee hotel - we put one up earlier in the year but have yet to find any takers.

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    1. I wonder if you put it up too soon. Mine only went out 3 - 4 weeks ago. I also made sure that I placed it on a wall that has the sun on it all day long - apparently they do like to be warm, and prefer to face southwards.
      Having said that I was very surprise when I discovered them this morning but also delighted.

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  10. I hope that all of the tunnels get filled up and then you will have loads of bees looking lodgings next year! It is great that they have found it and are making use of it isn't it, not wonder you are so happy! xx

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    1. I am very hopeful Amy that all of the tunnels will be filled. A 7th one was sealed off this evening and I saw a bee flying out of an 8th hole which it must have been laying eggs in.
      It is really exciting to watch what is going on in the busy bee world.

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  11. Dear Rosemary,
    I couldn't pay a visit to the Land of Blog and not come and visit you - and I'm glad that I did! I like this project of yours. It am sure you be the perfect landlady/nanny to those little bee babies. Do you need to protect them from other insects that might try to harm them?
    Bye for now,
    Kirk

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    1. Dear Kirk - it so lovely to hear from you again - you have been missed.
      I do believe that there are parasitic flies that could be a danger, but the little chalet is pretty secure, and the solitary bees seem to be making an excellent job of sealing the tunnels up, so fingers crossed that they will be alright - what clever busy little bees they are.

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  12. Dear Rosemary, what a delightful post, and I can just imagine how thrilled you were to find the bees already finishing the first few tunnels. It sounds like the chalet will be completely filled in no time at all. What a very special project you have, and it is the perfect thing to have in your lovely garden. Love your little cartoon bees, too :)

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    1. It is the most undemanding thing to do and one that should reap benefits for our garden. All I have to do is leave them where they are until the autumn and then place them somewhere dry. I kept popping out to see what they were up to yesterday, and was surprised how quickly another tunnel was filled. I think that they must eat a tummy full of vegetation and then regurgitate it. Talk about busy as a bee.

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  13. Dear Rosemary,
    now you have these wonderful renters - congratulation! You are able to follow their life more closely (though they seal there doors). I am surprised that bees also enjoy "single"-life - I always saw them in a deeply knitted social network.

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    1. I only discovered recently that there are in fact over 200 different types of solitary bee in the UK. It is the honey bee that lives a communal life in a hive. The Bumble bee too is a communal bee, but they only have a very small colony. They usually make holes in the ground in which to lay the eggs. There is much more to the life of bees than I realised.

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  14. This is GREAT news Rosemary , bees should be 'invited in everywhere, totally important for the ecosystem. I wrote a comment on your previous post too, but I see that somehow it didn't appear.

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    1. It is in the comments Jane, I remember replying to it - I am so thrilled that the bees are making use of the chalet and enjoying watching them now that I know what they are up to.

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  15. Dear Rosemary,these are great news!I can imagine how excited you are!!!It wiil be nice when all the tunnels are filled!!IThe bees are joy in the garden!!I love them!!Have a lovely week!!
    Dimi...

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    1. Dear Dimi - I am enjoying watching them - they have now filled two more tunnels - such busy bees.

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  16. Isn't that a wonderful I idea for the bees. Good on you for doing that, and as I read more work than expected., however, you will reap the rewards in your garden no doubt.

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    1. It is not really very much work for me, they are the busy ones. I just have to make sure that they are safe and dry over winter. Wish that I had their energy.

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  17. Fantastic stuff and what a responsibility too!

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    1. I am so delighted that they found it Suzie - all being well and if all the tunnels are filled, I understand 10 eggs per tunnel, that should be 240 new bees next year.

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  18. Oh, excellent, Rosemary. So glad the bees like their exceptionally cool accommodation!

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    1. I was so surprised when I discovered what they had been up to, it is great fun watching them.

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  19. Enjoyed reading your post! Learned many information from your post. So delighted to see your capturing of pictures!

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    1. Thank you for visiting and for your very kind comment which I appreciate. Oh, I see you have become a followers too - thank you, I will pop over and see you soon.

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  20. Oh Rosemary, what splendid news! Residents at last. I hope they signed a letting agreed and did an inventory before they moved in. I really am so pleased for you and your bees and I might even be a little jealous too. I want a bee residence too now:)
    PS. Glad to see you joined in with the spirit of World Baking Day with your post title! *winks*

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    1. Dear Mr. Paul - do get yourself a bee chalet it really is very entertaining watching them - they work so quickly. Since I noticed them yesterday, three more tunnels are now full. Oh! for some of their energy. You can buy a chalet here if your are really interested:-
      http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wildlife-World-Solitary-Bee-Hive/dp/B001HIYW44/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1400438057&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=solitary+bee+chalet

      Winking back at you for your quick thinking.

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  21. I do have birdhouses and even a butterfly house in the garden, but I do not have a bee chalet. I am happy for you that it works. One cannot have enough bees in the garden! The amount of bees in Holland has decreased rapidly over the last few years. I may follow your example!

    Have a lovely week!

    Madelief x

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    1. Dear Madlief - Do get one, they are only £20 on Amazon. It is great fun watching them working away as they fill the tunnels with eggs, pollen, and fibre. I am amazed how quickly they complete each tunnel. If all of the tunnels are filled I can expect about 250 new bees to emerge next spring, which must be good for the garden.
      The solitary bee does not sting, only if badly threatened, and its sting is very mild, unlike the honey bee.

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  22. Świetny pomysł, ratunek dla ginących pszczół, a przy okazji ciekawe miejsce do obserwacji . Pozdrawiam.
    Great idea, rescue the dying bees, and on the occasion of an interesting place to observe. Yours.

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    1. The little bee house is proving to be a great hit with the bees - I am delighted.

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  23. How funny how it works, I hope you have a lot off bee's in youre garden.
    Hope youre bee hotel is booked full over a few weeks.
    Have a nice week Rosemary.

    Greetings,
    Inge, my choice

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    1. Dear Inge - When they leave the chalet next spring there should certainly be many more bees in this area.

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  24. What a lovely surprise to find your bee hotel occupied! I wonder if others will follow your first bee's example and take up residence? Fascinating.

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    1. Each tunnel has been filled by a different bee - I now have 9 tunnels filled so they filling up rapidly. I hope others will put up a chalet or something similar - it is a very easy and interesting thing helping the bees have somewhere to lay their eggs.

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  25. We were given one of these bee houses years ago but never put it to good use. Might have to forage in our garage for it!
    Patricia x

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    1. You must resurrect it Patricia, it is fascinating to watch them, and involves no work for you to do apart from make sure that they are dry during the winter in a porch or somewhere similar. All the hard work is done by the bees.

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  26. Wow there didn't take too long to find this new fantastic new home! Sarah x

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    1. I was really surprised Sarah - 8 tunnels are now filled, and another one is underway.

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  27. What a super idea, Rosemary. I could cope with a few bees, but not a hive full of them. I do hope all your eggs hatch and the occupants flourish.

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    1. It is great fun Perpetua, and what was even better is the fact that they just got on and did the job without any help from me. Nine tunnels have been filled, and I think that may be them finished. Each tunnel, I have been told will have approx 10 eggs in it so next year, if all goes well, that will be 90 new bees to pollinate our garden.

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