As I mentioned in my previous post, I am upset about dead bees, Valley Carpenter Bees to be specific. Since it appears other folks might want them dead and gone or at least off their property, I want to offer them sanctuary and welcome them at Hanbury House. Valley Carpenter Bees are solitary, docile, hardworking, native bees, that spend many hours a day pollinating fruits and vegetables around the neighborhood. Since I want to keep the bees around, I decided the kids and I could spend a Sunday afternoon making homemade wooden bee houses out of left over wood we had.
Although European Honey Bees like community hives, our Bee houses are a series of holes for the carpenter bees to hopefully discover, improve, and make into a nest. I have seen some bee houses for sale in gardening catalogs, and they don’t look too complicated make, but most of them are designed for smaller mason bees, like the ones I photographed while visiting Catalina in March.
Valley Carpenter Bees, Xylocopa varipuncta, are rather large in comparison to many of the other carpenter bee species, a little over an inch in length. They are the largest bee found in California and are one of the largest bees in America. I was unable to find information on how wide of a hole we needed for the Valley Carpenter Bees. Most of the holes on other sites were for the smaller species of wood dwelling bees. Therefore, we made them slightly larger and of 3 different sizes, ranging from 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch. The bees are bound to find one of the sizes to their liking.
We had plenty of scrap lumber around, left from our facelift to the back bathroom and laundry room makeover. I chopped up a partial redwood 4 x 4 into six pieces, mitered the top half of each section, cut little roof pieces from another scrap piece of plywood at 45 degree angles, and then we all had fun playing with drill. Most of the commercial bee house have hole that are very symmetrical in neat little rows, but all the holes I have seen made by carpenter bees, certainly aren’t that way in their design, very random.
City Girl Farming Blog inspired me to make these myself, and she has a nice tutorial on how she made hers. A link to her site can be found on the right hand side bar.
On another side note, on Tuesday afternoon, while I was out supervising the baby chicks wandering around the yard, I was happy to notice a female carpenter bee in the yard, with no signs of illness. I guess I better hurry up and find a nice spot to hang our new bee houses. The patio table is not a good spot for them.