Learned to replace my mason bee house tubes & checked suet stations before the rain came…

It’s a bit frustrating when you think you’re doing something good in the yard for the wildlife, only to maybe be making things worse because there’s a lot you don’t know. Makes me shudder to think of folks who buy the bee houses from the dollar store–half the holes aren’t even drilled out properly and the materials are crap.

I’d spray painted the outsides of the tear-drop shaped solitary bee houses (the ones with all the tubes sticking out) a few weeks ago and just hung them in the best places I could against the trees where they could get the morning sun and hopefully not much rain. Well, while reading up a bit more, I learned that the tubes I have were made of bamboo rather than reeds. I figured as much, but then I noticed that wasn’t gonna be a great idea unless I did something.

I got some replacement cardboard tubes for the bees to put their eggs in, and yesterday I got some paper inserts to go into those. The tip for messing with these types of bees is having a way to remove the cocoons that won’t tear them up or introduce diseases and such. And if you have bamboo, it’s gonna be hard to cut into them without damaging or killing the bees inside.

But, if you have paper inserts that fit inside the bamboo pretty well, the bees will go in that paper part and lay their eggs in there. Get some tweezers in the end, and then they can be pulled out. I bought a LOT of those paper inserts, and some cardboard.

wild-bee-5098602_1280

Some of the bamboo is a bit tiny, so to fill up the spaces (and leave “landmarks” so bees can find their original holes again), I would take the end that was not open or practically a pinhole and face it out. Some I stuffed twigs into the ends as more landmarks (and some rain-blockers). The rest of the bamboo I put paper inserts into, trimmed down to fit, or I left them be. The types of bees I could probably count on most around here would be mason bees and leafcutter bees, and leafcutters might need slightly bigger holes. Either way, I don’t think masons will use the huge holes at all, because it would take way too much mud and work to fill them up (and easier for predators to stick their beaks in to dig around).

So I spent the morning doing that, trying to replace or re-use some bamboo and the cardboard tubes in as random a way as I could.

I didn’t get to my free-standing multi-insect “hotel” in the front yard, but I was planning to get a flashlight in there to make sure the holes weren’t already used (they might be, because I introduced one bee to it and it might’ve decided to hang. It happened a couple mornings ago, a bee–no stinger–landed on my leg and I just got it on my finger and carried it over).

If there’s anything I’m pleased about the most regarding this pollinator project, it’s that I’m trying to be more observant about the bees that come around, and not freak out. I need to look at pictures and memorize what’s there. I definitely don’t want a bunch of honeybees suddenly showing up and getting pissed off if I get too close. And before the rain came, I saw my recently-drab looking sunflowers perked up or revitalized. And a big fat bumblebee landing right in the pollen of one.

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That put a helluva smile on my face, and seeing another insect hovering around the flowers of my spaghetti squash plant really made me wonder how well this is gonna work out. I have a good sized gourd coming out, and what looks like more developing (yay!)

Other than the bees, I’ve been trying to keep the beneficial birds helping out around here with those suet cakes. I’ve never bought them before and someone was cleaning out their gardening stuff and gave me a hang-up container box for them. So I went and bought a couple more simpler ones (this one needs a sanding and paint job badly) that can hold two cakes. I’ve not seen a bird eating off those suet cakes, and I wonder if one is just in a bad place because the wind makes the tree branch move so much. I picked the spot because it’s nearby a water source, but maybe I can find a better (not too hard to reach) branch for it. And on another tree, on the other side of the birdbath I placed, there’s been a couple inches taken off a corner of each cake.

I have always seen suet cakes in the store for the birds to eat, but never saw anyone actually use them or get them for the birds. From what I understand, the animal fat protein in there gives a ton of energy to woodpeckers and other birds, and I hope it helps them out. And it’s nice to know there’s a block of food that it looks like the squirrels will avoid (they would’ve knocked ’em down by now if they were interested by now).

red-bellied-woodpecker-6009164_1280

So when the rain stops, I’ll check on all those bee houses and see if anything needs changing or re-arranging. I’m sure some of it will get wet inside, can’t help that because of the angle of the tree trunks. But that’s something to look forward to before the leafcutter bees get into looking for places to nest in June.

The indoor animals are a bit noisier now. I have five babies in the nesting boxes by now and the daddy is finally getting into gear to check in on his ladies and probably help feed. The moms still come out once in a while–mostly to poop–but also rush to a bowl to get some extra food fast as they can and hightail it back to the boxes before their babies start squeaking too much. One’s got three, one has two. So every other day it seems, there are hatchings going on. I wonder how many will hatch completely and how many will remain. And of what hatches, I hope they all stay alive, because it’s no guarantee they will, especially as they get hungrier and have only one dad to help them eat.

But I’m learning all around. Can’t wait to figure out more and hopefully be ready for what comes. I’ve gotta clean up the tiny cage I had when there was just two birds and as time goes on, if I haven’t sold the babies yet, I’ll have to get the three not mating and put them in that smaller cage temporarily…maybe. That’s if all 10 eggs hatch, because 16 birds in that cage might just be too damned much if it takes weeks to get them gone and me back to the original 6.

More learning’s needed, but I’ll have that cage on stand-by just in case, fresh paper in the bottom and perches back in place.

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