Students Build Bee Houses
Hornby Island students worked with the guidance of Natural History volunteers to make their own bee homes. A “bee house” provides an important shelter young for bees. Since many native bee species are wood dwelling, yet unable to make their own nesting holes, caring humans can provide bee boxes for our neighborhood pollinators to lay their eggs.
During the Mason Bee Project, Stewards talked with students about the essential role pollinators play in nature. The group dismantled a mason bee house to have a look inside and discuss the needs of these solitary bees, and noted differences to communal bumble and honey bees. They discussed various stages of development beginning with the female laying an egg in the hole, leaving a supply of pollen as food, and enclosing the hole with mud to create a protected space in which it can incubate into larva. Students examined larvae in the bee house and the dormant pupae cocoons born from last year’s eggs. They discussed the timing of the emergence of the fully formed bees from these cocoons and ways in which we can help them survive. Stewards then helped students assemble their own mason bee houses using tin cans to contain segments of bamboo and horsetail in which bees can lay eggs—then they attached a wire to hang the can. A handout with a brief description for installation was sent home with each house
As well as making bee houses, we can also ensure that our yards offer nesting materials: dead wood, leaves, and undisturbed soil. The Lifecycles Bee Project offers detailed instructions and pictures on helping bees and making a bee home. Download Home for Bees.
The gallery below shows the various stages of the students’ project.