Create nesting aid for mining bees

Tawny mining bee
Tawny mining bee

About three-quarters of our wild bees prefer a place on the ground. With these step-by-step instructions, you can succeed in building a nesting box for mining bees.

If you want to do something good for mining bees, you can create a nesting aid for the insects in your garden. Mining bees live in ground nests, which is why natural soil is extremely important for them. As with many other wild bees, the habitat for this rare species is dwindling. Pollution and urban development, heavily farmed areas and the disappearance of slopes are among the main reasons. Some mining bees are extremely selective about their food and only fly to very specific plants. A lot of species are already strictly protected. If you want to support mining bees, build them a nesting aid in your garden.

What are mining bees?

Most mining bee species can be observed in spring, as their main flight period is between April and June. Mining bees are between 7 and 17 millimeters in size, depending on the species, and are hairy almost all over their bodies. The fur can be white, yellowish, reddish, brownish or black in color. Male mining bees usually have a brightly spotted head, while females have a velvet-like hairy head. In spring, the males,- always close to their nesting sites, make a low-level flight in search of a female. But do not worry: the males cannot sting and are completely harmless. After mating, the male dies and the female starts building the nesting site by digging a tunnel 5 to 60 centimeters (2 to 24 in) deep into the ground.

The optimal nesting site for mining bees

Mining bees love warm and dry biotopes. That is why most nesting sites are located on open soils with mining areas. In nature, nesting sites are often found on embankments, steep slopes, rough grasslands, quarries and gravel pits, as well as natural quarry edges. But even in areas populated by humans, nesting sites can be seen from time to time on unpaved and unpaved roads. Even the mining joints of sunny parking lots are converted as nests, because unfortunately these are often the only nesting opportunities far and wide.

If you want to create a nesting aid for mining bees in the garden yourself, you should definitely look for a place that is on the south side of the house. Lean garden soils with sparse or no vegetation are suitable as possible nesting sites in the garden. Natural gardens therefore offer particularly good conditions, as many wild perennials prefer precisely these soil conditions. But you can also create a nesting aid for mining bees in a conventional garden. Following are instructions how to do it, step by step.

Creating a nesting aid for mining bees: This is how it works

First, dig a pit about a spade deep. The location should be a sunny, dry spot in the rain shadow of the garden house. For the filling material, you can use mining from an old mining box. It is important not to use fresh washed mining. This is too loose, so that the corridors of the small mining bees would collapse. If the mining is suitable for “baking” mining pie, it has the right consistency.

As a boundary for the mound, some old bricks can be used. Ground-nesting wild bees and digger wasps populate the area, as do ant lions (doodlebugs) and tiger beetles. Lizards like to lie on the stones and use the warm mining to let the sun hatch their eggs.

The right food plants for mining bees

Since mining bees don’t stray far from their nesting sites, it makes sense to provide important food plants as well. Here, it should be noted that each species prefers different plants. Some species even head for only one plant. For example, the wool-using bee only collects pollen from woundwort (Stachys).

Bellflowers, maples, willows and barberry are among the more common food plants. But wild bees also like to feed on soft fruits such as cranberries or currants. Especially among cruciferous plants, many pollen sources can be found for mining bees. These include ornamental plants such as stocks or lilacbush as well as useful plants such as lettuce, garden cress or Brussels sprouts. Other forage plants can be found among the umbelliferae (Apiaceae), buttercups (Ranunculaceae), composite plants (Asteraceae) and also rose plants (Rosaceae).

Creating a flower meadow for mining bees

If you have created a mining bee nesting area in your garden, you should definitely also take care of the appropriate food supply. If there is enough space, you can create an entire flower meadow for the busy pollinators.

To do this, dig up a designated area in the garden. In the process, remove the sod and possible root weeds. In order to spread the wildflower seeds more evenly, it is best to mix them with some mining beforehand. Then the soil is tamped down with a shovel and watered. After a few weeks, the flower buffet is opened for the insects.

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