Sunday, 28 June 2009

Priory Bee Hotel

Last spring I constructed a "Bee Hotel" at Priory Country Park (in the staff car park) and this season things are really buzzing especially with leaf-cutter bees using the 8.5-11mm range of holes...



By quickly tracking a female into the wildlife garden I was able to photograph the leaf-cutting process on a field maple, which amazingly took only 11 seconds. On average a female returned with a cut leaf only 45 seconds after leaving her hole, but on one occasion needed only 25 seconds.





One female was putting the final seal on a hole, requiring a considerable number of layers, and still unfinished when I left...



Ever-hopeful males were constantly harassing females, this frustrated male having just lost one down a hole...


The most interesting female was nesting in the centre of the top-left log with 11mm holes. She did her own leaf-cutting just like all the other females...


but unlike them, never collected her own food for her offspring. She simply raided the nests of those around. Here she is with a lump of a neighbour's bee bread!


Here is one of the honest bees, returning with a load of pollen on the hairs beneath, which is where leaf-cutters carry their pollen. (In case you are matching the markings on the logs and thinking that it is heading the for same hole as the above, you are right. She then realised her mistake and went into the one next door. (They quite often have to hunt around for their own hole).


It isn't just bees that use the hotel. This solitary wasp Sapyga quinquepunctata has just laid on egg in this hole. Her larva will destroy the egg of the owner-bee, and develop on the bee's food-store.


This mason wasp is provisioning cells in a piece of bamboo with bits of invertebrate, and will eventually seal the hole with mud, as has already happened with two nearby canes...


Photos by Keith Balmer

No comments: