More than half of the approximately 560 wild bee species in Germany are already threatened. Their natural habitat is disappearing.
One of the most natural nesting aids for wild bees is a hardwood trunk with holes, like our nesting aids in many markets.
Honey bees and their wild relatives, the pollinating species of wild bees, are one of nature’s most important (ecosystem) service providers or “providers”. This is particularly due to their performance as pollinators. Around 80% of all crops depend on pollination by bees. If they visit the blossoms of apple trees, cherries, or strawberries, the fruit will develop. Without bees, our supermarket shelves would be as good as empty. Wild bees are more efficient pollinators than honey bees. In addition, they fly at lower temperatures and can thus pollinate flowers that honey bees cannot yet reach in the rather cool spring months.
A bee is not just a bee
In comparison to honey bees, the particularly hard-working wild bees do not live in a bee colony. Most wild bee species are solitary and do not produce honey. They also do not lay their eggs in honeycombs, but in nesting tunnels that they find in nature or build on their own.
Some of them dig holes in the ground, others colonize plant stems. Many wild bee species build their nest cells in beetle-feeding tunnels in dead wood. However, because there is less and less deadwood in our managed forests and tidy parks and other habitats are also disappearing, it is high time to support the wild bees – living wild bee species are threatened!
Help wild bees
If you want to help the wild bees, you can do a lot with little effort. Wild bees need native wild plants to feed themselves and their brood. Because the different wild bee species are also out and about at different times of the year, it is important to offer them plenty of flowers from spring to late autumn. If you have a garden, you can set up a wild flowering meadow corner or wildflower meadow. Make sure you use an insect-friendly and, above all, regional plant mixture. Balconies and window sills are also ideal because wildflowers can find space even in a small space.
It is also possible to offer the wild bees a nesting place. One of the most natural nesting aids for wild bees is a hardwood trunk with holes. The small holes in the stem imitate the beetle-feeding tunnels that wild bees inhabit in nature.
Our wild bee nesting aid – small but useful
Over 90% of insect hotels on the market today are either useless or even harmful to wild bees. An example: very often insect hotels are offered with filling materials such as cones, hay, or bark. However, this attracts earwigs, for example, which are dangerous to the wild bee larvae.
It is also not important to set up an object that is as large as possible, which apparently houses many insects. Installing one or more sensibly equipped, smaller nesting aids brings more benefits and reduces parasite infestation.
A nesting aid must also be barred, otherwise, it mainly provides birdseed.
Our nesting aid made of hardwood, with boreholes of different sizes for different wild bee species, is, therefore, the most sensible dwelling for these hard-working pollinators.
In contrast to the honey bee, some wild bee species fly even at low temperatures or in bad weather conditions. This is a great advantage, for example for the fruit blossoming in spring. This is how vegetables and fruit are reliably pollinated when it is still cold or rainy in spring.
Useful nesting aid
One of the most natural nesting aids for wild bees is a hardwood trunk with holes. The small caves imitate the beetle-feeding tunnels that wild bees inhabit in nature. Wild bees that nest in the aisles include mason bees (Osmia spec.), masked bees (Hylaeus spec.), and scissor bees (Chelostoma spec.).
What happens in the nesting aid?
The wild bees build rows of chambers. In each of these chambers, they build a pollen cake and lay an egg on top. As soon as the larvae hatch, they eat the pollen and then pupate. They usually fly out the following year after hibernating.
Tips for building your own wild bee nesting aid
If you want to offer such a nesting aid, you should only use hardwood. Due to its stability, eggs and larvae are well protected. Suitable trees are, for example, beech, oak, ash, and Robinia. Robinia was also used for this post. Softwoods, on the other hand, are unsuitable.
When drilling, you should make sure that the holes have a diameter of two to nine millimeters. In addition, the holes should be drilled across the grain of the wood and not into the end grain. The different-sized holes make the nesting aid attractive for different species.
Splinters could injure the animals, so work should always be done cleanly.