The Benefits of a Bee Abode

It’s that time of year in New England when I can’t wait to get outside, but all of my garden chores are clean-up related (read: boring). So in between raking the oak leaves out of the crevices (my oak tree holds its leaves through most of the winter and then dumps them in the spring–it’s very annoying) and putting down new mulch, I’ve been looking for ways to spice up my garden fun. That mostly consists of browsing Pinterest endlessly, and trying to grow starter plants in a terrarium. But I also decided to finally buy a bee house!

So here’s the deal! Not all bees live in hives. There are many species of solitary bees (who are not aggressive) and are GREAT for your garden. Your garden will benefit from having more of these insects around–and you can help combat colony collapse–and the houses are so darn cute! Honestly, picture this little palace when there are tomato plants and nasturtium all around.┬áThe bee houses (also known as insect hotels) often play host to other beneficial insects, like ladybugs and lacewings. Frankly, you can’t afford NOT to have one.

I’ve been concentrating on planting native species, and flowers that attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds over the past few years. (I’m even trying to grow milkweed from seed for Monarchs.) I dug up, split, and replanted many of my bee-favorites this spring (like black-eyed susans and echinacea) and am thinking about building a bee bath. (I haven’t figured out how to keep it from becoming a mosquito hatchery–if you have any tips, I’d love to know.) Basically, I’m trying to turn my tiny suburban yard into a haven for birds and bugs!

During my spring cleaning of the shed, I decided to get rid of some old citronella torches. They happen to be made from bamboo, so I’m going to cut them up, bundle them together, and turn them into another insect hotel–but I wanted a pretty one for the middle of the garden. (Also, I don’t want my construction skills to render a bunch of perfectly nice bees homeless.)

No little buzzing buddies have moved into my hotel yet, but I’ll keep you updated on my adventures!

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