Sunday, 16 August 2009

Masonry Bees- Advise at hand!

It was very interesting listening to your slot on BBC London this week, and it has left me with a question I would like to ask you.
For the past couple of years in the springtime we have had some masonry Bees nesting in our wall above our patio door, at least I am told they are masonry Bees They get in and out via spacers left by the builders when the house was built. They are only there for a couple of weeks and then they block the holes and disappear. I imagine they will return next year.
As much as I respect the Bee I'm not sure I want them to nest again next year. Can you give me some advice as to what I should do to prevent them nesting next year, I would be very grateful.
Very Best Regards
Andrew Hamshare
Hi Andrew

Thanks for your question. You do have Masonry bees. They are only active in the spring. Your right, they have now laid their eggs in preparation for next year. So you missed the boat for doing anything this year, as its August. Next year when you notice the very first activity, the bees emerging, flying about, THAT'S the time to act!

Try the The Hive Honey Shops Eco-Friendly 'Rehousing Method'

1) Make your plywood barrier habitat
Take a large piece of plywood 15mm thick, large enough to cover the entire area of the wall they are coming out of. Take a size 7 wood drill bit and drill lots of holes through the plywood sheet. Screw that to another piece of plywood the same size. Loosely refill the drilled holes will either sawdust or soil. As you have sandwiched another piece of plywood to the back of the one with drilled holes, the bees can enter the drilled holes only but no further. They will be unable to re-enter the fabric of your building.

2) Fix your plywood barrier habitat
Now around 8am on a sunny day when the bees are flying, screw your plywood to your bee infested wall area, holes facing outwards. As the bees are out flying they will come back to your plywood barrier. They will enter your drilled holes and lay their eggs in the plywood, not the wall of your building.

3) Remove & relocate your plywood barrier habitat
Once the bee population dwindles, about 1-2 months later, remove the plywood and place it in a far corner of your property. You have now successfully caught all the eggs for next year in your plywood habitat. Next year your bees will emerge from the plywood not your property wall.

4) Seal the holes in your property wall
After you have removed the plywood habitat, this is the time to properly seal the holes in your property wall. Use concrete if the holes are in the pointing, fill as normal. Unless you fill them properly you will have the same problem year after year as the masonry bees will reuse the holes again and again.

The nice thing about using our plywood method is that you do not harm or upset the bees and you do not disturb their natural life cycle, just alter the location where they breed.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Danger-WASPS!- protect your hives

This is the wasp season when populations are at their highest and available food supplies are short. So wasps turn to robbing just about anything and everything! The general public will be targeted by wasps for any morsels of food they drop, hold or are in the middle of eating!

My daughter was stung today by a wasp. She is very at ease with bees and wasps, yet it slowly flew up to her and stung her? It had no reason to do so, she had not moved or provoked it. In any case I say this because 98% of stings that people incur are from wasps, NOT honeybees. But people see a flying insect buzzing around and then when stung assume it was a bee (honeybee). Poor bumblebees and honeybees get a bad rap as a result.

So why protect a beehive? Well wasps are meat eating predators. They find a bee colony and attack bees one by one, snapping the bee in half with their strong mandibles and fly back to their nest to feed their young. Wasps are sugar junkies. When they feed their larva, the larva in return produces a liquid high in sugar that the wasp will remove and consume. Once one wasp finds your hive they will come back with reinforcements. They can kill all your bees, clear out all the honey and move on to the next hive in your apiary until nothing is left.

Here are a few tips to reduce wasp attack.
1 Keep your apiary CLEAN. Don't drop any wax bits, honey, sugar syrup in or around your apiary site. Doing so just shouts out COME AND GET IT!!

2 Reduce the hive entrance. Now is the time to put in your hive entrance block. It is simply a piece of wood the size of the opening to the floor entrance with a 6cm wide cut out opening in the middle. As the entrance and exit point is now reduced it gives your bees a better chance of fending off any wasps that try to sneak into your hive to rob or kill your bees.

3 Make wasp traps. You can make a simple DIY wasp trap to catch any scout wasps. Scout wasps look for any good food source, communicating to their nest where a site of easy pickings is. Take out the scouts and you can keep your apiary site a secret for a bit longer.

I have a photo of my little DIY water bottle wasp trap. The bait is simply beer and jam. Its nice to know its eco-friendly, safe for plants, animals and the environment. The base of the drinks bottle is filled with the bait leaving about a 6cm gap from the nearest entrance/exit point. I use plastic cones that are made for WBC roof ventilation for the entrance. Make about 3 per hive. I tested these against a major wasp trap manufacturer and I was pleased to see my traps caught 20-30 per day where theirs caught 6-10!

photo copyright 2009 ©-The Hive Honey Shop