Saturday, 21 November 2009

Bumble & Solitary Bee Home Workshop - 5th December

It's now only 2 weeks until we meet for the YABeeP bumble/solitary bee day on 5th December.

The purpose of the day is to build bumblebee nest boxes and/or solitary bee homes either as useful Christmas presents to give, or for your own use. Click here to see the YABeeP bumblebee home plans, or here to see an excellent example solitary bee box by Marc Carlton.

We will be meeting at Ray's in Cheddar (an email with venue details has been sent to YABeeP members). The meeting will start at 10:00 am, but come along when you can. It would help Ray if you could let him know if you are attending either by phone or email.

Jon will be providing some pallet planks and bits of timber he has managed to purloin (!) but if you have, or see in a skip, any of the following materials then please bring them on the day and we can make use of them:
  • bamboo canes
  • pallet planks, whole pallets or misc planking
  • logs of varying firewood sizes
  • 4" x 2" pieces of timber (or larger)
  • perspex sheeting
  • bits of chicken wire or similar
Similarly, we will be providing the necessary tools but if you want to bring your own please do.

See you there or at the YABeeP Christmas drink on 7th December.

Robin & Jon

UPDATE: 29 Nov:

I am pleased to say that Marc Carlton form the Gardens for Wildlife website is joining us on Saturday 5th December from Chepstow. He will kindly give us a quick chat drawing from his experience on bumbles and solitaries before we start so we can adapt our boxes accordingly.

Because of a tip he has already passed on to me can I ask any of you who have family pet mice, rats, gerbils, etc. to collect old bedding you clean out and bring it on the day. Apparently the 'aroma' of old mice bedding is a bumblebee attractant - pooh!

© Robin Morris - YABeeP

Gardening for Bees

Gardening for Bees - and other pollinating insects

We had always planned to have a page on the YABeeP website to give guidance on gardening for bees although, with other priorities in this our first year, this stayed 'on the back burner'.

Fortunately, in 2010 one of our members in the gardening game professionally gave us an excellent presentation on Planting for Bees, a summary of which is now published on the website to provide this advice for all.

We have also discovered another website by Marc Carlton which not only gives excellent advice with downloadable fact sheets but also follows the sustainable principles that YABeeP encourages. As there is no sense in reinventing the wheel I would encourage all members and others who visit this site to use Marc's excellent Gardens for Wildlife website for bee-friendly, and other pollinating insect, gardening advice. 

The whole website is very well written with sound advice, not only for those who actively house bees of whatever species, but also if you want a wildlife-friendly, more natural and sustainable garden. In particular make sure you read his Basics page, download his Wildlife Gardening fact sheets and plant lists', see his bumblebee and gardens page with yet more fact sheets and make sure that you build a solitary bee some following his useful Make a Home for Solitary Bees page. Marc has also produced an excellent Bibliography (330KB pdf file) where you can do a keyword search for topics of interest - good on you Marc!

Originally from London Marc is now just over the water in Chepstow so we can welcome him a near neighbour.

Please Note: The content of Marc's website is subject to copyright. He has kindly made it available for personal use or non-commercial educational purposes only but re-publication without permission is prohibited.

© Robin Morris - YABeeP

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

How to make a Bumblebee box from a recycled pallet

This post describes how to use an old pallet to make a bumblebee box - now that's recycling!

Click on any picture to enlarge.

Tools required:
  • Hand saw
  • Drill (for pilot holes for screws)
  • Wood glue
  • Screws - size 4 x 50mm (Imperial 8 x 2")
Step 1 – Preparation
The easiest way is to cut the planks from between the bars of the pallet as shown. Make the cuts square (use a set square if possible) and as near to the bar as you can to maximise the timber you use. You will need to cut the following planks:

  • 3 x roof pieces (A) - make these each the same length and as long as your cut planks will permit
  • 6 x floor/sides pieces (B) – cut these 40mm shorter than your roof pieces A
  • 4 x end lengths (C) – these needs to be the width of your planks x 2 .
If you choose to add the optional vestibule you also need:
  • 2 x vestibule pieces (D) – again these need to be the width of your planks x 2 minus 3mm (or the thickness of your perspex)
  • 2 x off-cuts
  • piece of perspex
Step 2 – Floor
To make the floor take two equal lengths of the floor/side pieces (B).

Drill 4 pilot holes in the corners of each piece. Use another plank to mark the width along each end (see illustration) then drill the holes midway.

Glue the butting sides and place together as in the illustration.

Step 3 – Add the Front

To make the front and back ends take one of the side/floor pieces (B).

Use a hole cutter to cut a 25mm entrance hole in one end.

If you don't have a hole cutter cut a 25 x 25mm notch from the corner of the front section.

Glue and screw front to one end of floor.

Step 4 – Add the back

Take another of the side/floor pieces (B) and glue and screw it to the back

Step 5 – Add lower sides

To make bottom sides cut 2 further lengths the same as the floor, glue and screw these to the sides.

Note that the top surface of the sides does not come up to the ends. This is deliberate.

Step 6 – Add upper sides

Take two more floor/side pieces (B),
glue and screw them in place as shown. Ensure that one of the pilot holes allows you to screw the side pieces to front/back pieces where they overlap.
Step 7 – Add upper ends
These will need to be cut lengthwise first. To do this put in place, draw a line joining the tops of each side then cut off the edge (shown on red in illustration).

Once cut glue and screw in place.

Step 8 – Add vestibule (optional)
Whilst a vestibule is not essential it is recommended.
To make, take 2 lengths of planking and stand inside your box about 40mm from the entrance. Cut level with the top or if you are adding a viewing window cut to be 3mm shorter than the top.

Cut a 25mm hole in one piece and position to be the opposite side to the entrance hole. Again if you don't have a hole cutter make a 25mm notch in one corner.

When cut to size glue and screw in place.
Step 9 – Add viewing window (optional)
Using a couple of off-cut pieces of wood glue viewing window supports 3mm below the top at the two rear corners. Together with the vestibule entrance, these will support the perspex viewing window.

If you choose not to add a vestibule then you will also need to add two more supports to the front corners.

Cut a piece of 2mm perspex to fit the inside dimensions of your box. Place this to rest on the vestibule and corner supports.

NB: Please don't use a window as an excuse to keep peeking in. Best to only rarely look as frequent disturbance will cause your bees to abscond.

Step 10 – Fit a roof
Take your three long planks (C) and glue together.
Cut two off-cuts and glue and screw across these at the edges to reinforce.

Add 2 further off-cuts at the sides to stop the roof sliding off sideways.

Alternatively you can add hinges to secure the roof.

You've done it!

The end result should look like this:

To download a 4 page pdf file (591 KB) of these instructions
click here.

To see a 3D model of this bee box
click here, you can rotate the model if you click on the '3D View' button. If you have the excellent Google Sketchup programme (free download here) installed on your PC then you can download the model from this same link.

In the UK your box needs to be in position by January as that is when Buff Tail Bumblebee queens start
emerging from hibernation and seeking their nest sites. If you can add some used bedding from pet mice, hamsters, gerbils, etc.. Apparently the 'aroma' of old mice bedding is a bumblebee attractant!

For information about bumbles see the YABeeP's Bumblebee page. For further advice on Bumblebees see the Bumblebee Conservation Trust's website and Wikipedia's Bumblebee pages.