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Support Native Bees

Spring means flowers, and flowers can help attract an important species into an area - bees.

You might have heard that bees have a very important job, and it’s true - bees pollinate plants! They visit lots of flowers to feed on nectar and pollen, collecting pollen, often on their sticky legs.

By visiting lots of flowers, and carrying pollen between them they help to fertilise plants so they can reproduce, including important plants for growing edible fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Many native plant species have evolved close relationships with specific bee species and some are pollinated by only one!

Native bee illustration by Donna Hunt.
Native bee illustration by Donna Hunt.

Did you know?

There are an estimated 2,000 species of native bees in Australia. Some of the different types include carpenters, leafcutters, lodgers, cuckoos, short-tongued and long-tongued bees.

Females build burrows on their own, without workers. The sole function of male bees is to locate and fertilise females so they spend lots of time patrolling flowers and burrow entrances.

Most native bees burrow in the ground, or otherwise in dead or rotting wood. Other species use existing holes in dead wood, hollow stems or old wasp nests.

Dawson's Burrowing Bee at Hamelin Reserve. Photo Michelle Judd.
Dawson's Burrowing Bee at Hamelin Reserve. Photo Michelle Judd.

When we think of bees, we often think of social species living in hives, but many species are actually solitary. And it’s these solitary species that you might entice into your garden through a bee hotel.

How to make a bee hotel

Warning symbol

Make sure you have a grown-up on the tools or supervising!

Tools you will need

What you’ll need:

  • A wooden box (of any height and width, but not too big) that’s about 15cm deep. You could make your own or might have bought something that came in an unwanted box.
  • Some blocks of wood, round logs and bamboo. Cut these to the depth of your box.
  • Cutting bamboo can be tricky. If you can find garden edging at a hardware or garden centre that’s already cut to a uniform height it will make the job easier.
  • Drill some holes in your wood and logs. Use a variety of widths, from 2mm to 10mm.
  • Fill your box with all your material, to create a range of hiding places/tunnels for solitary bees to nest.
That’s it. Find a sunny spot in your garden and hang it on the wall (nearby some flowers to attract bees to the area). Remember, bees in your garden will help pollinate plants so more of them grow!