Leafcutter bees aren’t picky about their house, as long as it meets their nest-building needs. In fact, you can use the same house to encourage other native solitary bees and beneficial solitary wasps - all enjoying the benefits of a suitable habitat.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when selecting your bee's home...
The leafcutter bee house design should be functional, durable and weather resistant. The nesting habitat must have wooden grooved trays for easy harvesting of cocoons in autumn.
The female needs a stable environment to build her nest. Once set up, leave your house in place and let nature do the rest.
- Your leafcutter bee house should allow for easy removal of cocoon harvesting at the end of the season. You can’t harvest bees from drilled wood blocks, as there’s no way to remove the cocoons - effectively rendering the house as a ‘bee graveyard’.
- Scale your house/s to the number of bees you want to raise. If you have a large yard with suitable flowers/food that can feed a lot of bees, you may want to install several leafcutter bee houses to provide plenty of additional nesting holes. Using specially designed interlocking wooden nesting trays will give you the best chances of success in raising leafcutter bees.
Location, location, location
Selecting a good location is key to raising leafcutter bees.
Place the house facing the morning sun, but preferably away from prevailing winds. Bees are cold blooded and need the morning sun to get them active, ensuring they get their pollination duties underway efficiently.
Bee houses should be at least one metre off the ground, and ideally fixed to a secure structure such as a tree, fence post, side of a house or garage/farm barn. It’s worth considering placing the house in an area that you can sit and enjoy watching their activity at your leisure.
They’re truly fascinating to watch, and they really don’t mind you watching them.
Get up close and personal and spend hours admiring their talents.
Leafcutter Bee House basics
In it’s simplest definition, the Leafcutter Bee House is essentially a safe habitat for leafcutter bees. Not only a safe habitat, the leafcutter bee house also serve as a very attracting nesting habitat – providing the bee an ideal place to build next season’s dormant bee cocoons.
Unlike the honey bee, the leafcutter bee is a solitary bee, therefore it doesn’t rely on other bees to survive and get by. In other words, once the male and female have mated, the female will then continue her life cycle in a solitary nature. She doesn’t depend on other bees to survive, however she will enjoy nesting close to other leafcutter bees.\
During her life cycle, the female leafcutter bee will go about gathering nectar, pollen and laying an egg, going about all of this within the nesting cavity of the leafcutter bee house and within each nesting tunnel.
I’ve now got my Leafcutter Bee House, what do I need to know?
Following the purchase of your Leafcutter Bee House, it may come with a Post Mounting Sleeve to allow you to position it anywhere in your garden. If it doesn’t come complete with this additional sleeve, it can be hung on a wall, a tree or a fence post – though it is highly recommended to mount the house no lower than a metre in height and at eye level – ensuring you can enjoy seeing the bees go about their daily activity.
Depending on the time of year, it is likely you will probably get a redeemable card along with your purchase, allowing you to come online and redeem your bees. While you wait for these to be sent out, it is an ideal opportunity to look around your garden and pick out the perfect site.
In considering this site, it’s strongly encouraged to position the house so that the nesting tunnels are facing the morning sun. Bees are generally cold blooded, so a little bit of warmth in the morning is great to get them active and get them working early on. Wherever possible, it is important to try and avoid prevailing winds.
In addition, full instructions will come with the product showing you how to install the product and place the cocoons in to the house. These are also available on the BeeGAP website.
My house is well positioned, though there is still no sign of any activity – what should I do?
Leafcutter bees are very exciting pollinators, but it’s important to understand that they certainly won’t emerge immediately after installing your house. A common question asked is, how soon will they emerge? – and this really does depend on the climatic conditions and the geographical location of where you live.
Typically, you can expect your dormant cocoons to begin emerging from late November through to mid-January.