Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Bee box continued

A big THANK YOU to Marilyn K., who left a comment on my previous post, "Bee box housekeeping." I'd given up on finding paper straws the right size to fit inside the box's tubes. Then she told me about using parchment paper. I didn't have any, but my neighbor, Marcella, did. And she gladly donated the end of a roll to the cause. (Thanks to you, too, Marcella!) What a great and easy idea! Took a little doing, cutting the paper to the right size and getting it to roll up tight enough to fit inside the tubes. Like Marilyn suggested, I used a pencil to start the rolling. Then I tightened the little straws up myself and slipped each one inside a tube. It worked! Plus, I have loads of parchment paper still left to use in the future. Maybe I'll get inspired and make more wooden bee boxes. In the meantime, I'm waiting to see if any solitary bees nest in the bamboo tubes I set out last week.

P.S. Because it was so helpful (and interesting) to me, here is Marilyn's comment in full:
"Thanks for reminding us that is time to invite bees to our property. Everyone needs to help them as much as possible because both honey bees and our native bee species are in serious decline. And since they are responsible for 1/3 of our food production, we really need their help.

I worked on a bee project and then a bee display last summer at Malheur NWR. I found that he most important thing you can do to prevent disease is to either make new houses every year, or use the paper straws. And you can actually pull the straws out in the fall and store them in another dark container with one exit hole - some people even store the in their refrigerators. Sometimes it takes 2 years for all the bees to hatch out.

Making the straws is easy - just wrap parchment paper - the kind you buy to bake with - around a pencil. Then stick the straw in the bee tunnel and let it expand to fit. If you drill the holes all the way through the bee block, you can make the straws an inch or two longer than the tunnel, fold them down and screw on a thing piece of wood to close off the back.

Another interesting thing I learned is that the bee lays female eggs in the back of the tunnel and male bees toward the front. So the males are sacrificed to feed the birds. The longer the tube, the more females you'll end up with."


Rock rose said...

Is there a reason you need to put parchment paper in the holes? I just drilled holes and they came. Same in the bamboo. I did notice that they filled in the backs of the bamboo which are up against the wall.

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

Something about helping to stop the spread of diseases because the straws can be removed. I used plastic straws the first time around, and bee expert Michael Warriner said use paper instead. On my bamboo houses, I don't plan to reuse those. But I guess because this one is more "permanent," it's suggested that you use paper straws. As for parchment paper, it's cellulose-based with a tougher surface (I guess). I hadn't heard of using it until Marilyn suggested it. Maybe I'll ask Michael.....

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

Here's what Michael says on the subject: "Hey, Sheryl, parchment should work great. I purchased some straws online that work great using a 5/16 drill bit. Yep, straws help to keep the holes clean and prevent the buildup of pathogenic fungus and other nasties."

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