This guy got caught up inside against the window. It seems I’ve developed an eagle eye for bees, as I spotted him from across the room and he’s only about 10mm long.
Research indicates he’s a member of the Leioproctus genus, but which species is anyone’s guess, maybe Leioproctus ignicolor
We missed garlic planting day (shortest day of the year) this year because we didn’t have our next set of wicking beds ready at the time. We threw those bulbs in as fast as we could, though, about 2 weeks ago. Looks like they’re making up for lost time!
These bulbs were scavenged from last year’s failed lot: the cloves we pulled off the garlic we bought from the shops went more circular, like they were going to turn into a nice bulb, but never went any further and were no bigger than when they were planted when we dug them up last summer.
They sat in a box in the shed waiting to be replanted, and have exceeded expectations.
We can also add another benefit to the list of reasons why wicking beds rock: there are bees everywhere.
I watched them for a while, and they’re landing on the geotextile and sucking the moisture out of it. They’re also down inside the watering tube and they also sit on top of the levelling standpipe to get a drink.
Some time ago I made a bee hotel for native Australian bees. It was only after it was planted in the garden, that I read that most Australian native bees don’t live in Victoria, they live in New South Wales and Queensland. They like the temperature a little hotter. So it was a little disappointing to think that my hotel would remain empty. Nevertheless, I left the bee hotel in the yard, just because I liked the look of it.
Today was awesome because I saw my first native Australian bee buzzing around the garden. A blue-banded Amegilla cingulata. He’s a quick mover and the sound of his buzz has a higher pitch compared to regular honey bees. At first I thought he was an exotic fly of some kind, but the video below allowed me to confirm his identity. Fantastic!
Wikipedia says they like blue flowers and that they nest in dried-up river banks. This particular bit of the garden has a steep slope, and I was arranging the dirt to make it a bit more stable. It looks like this guy was looking to make a burrow here.
So the bee hotel, which was only 2 metres away from where this video was made, looks like it will remain empty for the time being!
Update: actually guy is probably a girl, since girls make burrows. They also have 4 blue stripes instead of 5 as boys do, and though it’s hard to tell it looks like she’s got 4 in the video.
The bees that make honey are European. Australia has over 1,700 species of bees, most of which don’t live in a hive and don’t make honey. They’re still great pollinators, though, and will happily coexist next to their European cousins.
Most Australian bees are solitary. This means that if you want to attract them to the garden, they need somewhere to live that is private. People make “bee hotels” using bamboo or by drilling wood or sticks with narrow, deep holes. The bees take up residence in them and then lay their eggs nearby.
We’ll get a few bee hives eventually (for honey), but for the moment a bee hotel is a quick and easy thing to make. We cut some logs, drill holes in them, and then make a frame out of some leftover ply.
The bees need a little overhang on the roof, to keep the logs nice and dry.
We still have some cedar weatherboards hanging around too. We only need to use one to completely clad the hotel.
A spot of weather-proofing linseed oil and it’s all done!
The bees like their hotel up off the ground so we’ll mount it on a post.