Hi, I can recommend this person who has a Twitter site ...
2013 photos & vids here
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You don't mention what garden you have, if any, so this may not be the best to share, but I will anyway.
Plants are a good aid to bees, and if you search around, there are many different ones you can grow.
Early spring, the daffodils see a lot of bees visiting, I also have lavender and erysimum for spring and summer flowering, the bees generally speaking do frequent them a lot, and for autumn constant cheer.
I've had honeybees, buff tailed and white tailed bees, plus a few more I've struggled to identify, that may not be bees but other similar insects.
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In reply to Mike B:
In reply to WendyBartter:
There's a bunch of different bees being mixed up here, it's better to separate them out a little bit :-)
Firstly, honey bees need no help whatsoever - quite the opposite. If anything, there are too many honey bees in the UK and they are not in any danger as a species. They are the insect equivalent of a chicken :-)
It's become a bit of a thing in recent years to put hives in all sorts of places - on top of buildings in cities for example - but all that is doing is adding tens of thousands of extra mouths to feed into an area likely already poor in foodstuffs. As there are so many honey bees in a hive, they will out-compete many of the solitary and bumble bees that ARE in real trouble. When people take up beekeeping in order to "do their bit" for the bees, it's the equivalent of releasing 1000 chickens on the Minsmere scrape to help the avocet.
The bees that really need our help are the solitaries - the Masons, Leafcutters, Plasterers etc, together with the Bumbles. Bumblebees like to nest down holes in the ground & you can build artificial nests from an upturned/half-buried flowerpot with a 1" pipe entrance (BBCT doubtless have plans on their website). The various solitary bees are the ones you'll find taking up residence in your bee hotel.
I completely agree about the problems of cleaning the holes in the hotel - I've seen the same problem, some new holes being filled before all the old ones have released their residents (and remember, simply seeing a hole in the end doesn't mean all bees have left the tunnel. Males are the first to come out, a few weeks earlier than the females sometimes. It's nigh on impossible to know a tunnel is empty). The only suggestion I have is to wait until the season is over, then clean out any holes that have no new residents (ie aren't blocked in) by reaming out the tunnel with the right sized drill bit. If the hotel uses pieces of bamboo, you may be able to remove & replace them, cleaning them with something like Arklens (the sort of thing used to clean bird feeders etc).
Personally I tend to not worry too much about anything parasitizing the bees - they are part of the natural world and have co-existed for millennia (and are frequently even more fascinating than the original bee!) so are not going to be a problem (it's the same concern people have with small birds and sparrowhawks - the raptors are not the reason for any declines in garden birds). By putting a big bee hotel in the garden you may be encouraging more bees to nest close together than they normally would (though large congregations in natural environments are completely normal for many species). If that is something that concerns you, the easiest thing is to put more, smaller hotels around the garden rather than one big one - that way you're less likely to get problems spreading.
The number one thing to do if you want to help is to plant food - flowers that give nectar and pollen for as long a season as possible is what all the insects need and is definitely the best thing to do
Finally, thought it a good excuse to share a mason bee to remind us of sunnier days!
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In reply to Whistling Joe:
In reply to beewelcome:
beewelcome said:Hello Mike. I've just logged on to find that my reply to you of 6th doesn't seem to have landed. No doubt I've made some error while responding to you, so trying again.... Just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your heads-up regarding planting. I have a small and very shaded garden - central patch of grass (which I intend to retain, as birds enjoy it), a couple of fairly small beds for plants and three 'ornamental' trees, one of which is a cherry and all of which reduce the amount of direct sunlight I experience. So inevitably hostas, hellebores, etc are planted, due to low sunlight levels. Have potted scabious, salvias, heucheras where there is more sun on my deck. Also have 3 well established climbers - jasmine, honeysuckle and solanum which flower lots. Will certainly pot up some heather and intended to plant up some large pots with spring bulbs, for the first time. Just haven't managed to get around to that! Also wondered about getting a couple of half barrels and planting them out with wildflower seeds...anything to help the bees! Thanks for your advice.
No worries and you're welcome, tech does throw a wobbler from time to time.
Though I do have a rather long garden, the planted area is quite small, two raised plant beds one around 3mtrs L x 0.5mtr W the other 2mtrs L x 0.5mtr W.
You're absolutely right about keeping the grass, a good place for birds to seek out worms, plus, if you don't cultivate a perfectly manicured lawn, then plants like clover, buttercup and daisies will grow, and very often bees will come down to those to feed.
You know your garden, and if you've got the space for some half barrels, then why not, they'll add some ornamental value plus with the plants, and then bees, plus other insects like butterflies and moths some splendour to view.
I'm not much of a botanist or gardener, so what plants other than already suggested I can't advise, however, the information is out there, and very often places like National Trusts will have plants for sale and often state if they're bee friendly or not.
The links below will take you to some photos of the beds I've mentioned.
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