Month: March 2018

bumble bee houses

There are lots of bumble bee queens looking around for a place to call home right now. Why not try to create a home they may like? I’ve read that, statistically, for people who study this sort of thing bumble bees only use about 30% of the homes humans try to make. Well, then I better make more than one!

I learned some tips from this video by David Goulsom, founder of the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust.

In nature, bumble bees often build nests in abandoned mammal holes. To approximate the insulation scientists say they like, I used dryer lint. (I haven’t bought any new clothes lately, so hopefully my lint isn’t toxic. I also wear natural clothes and organic when possible, but that’s surely something to think about. Don’t use your dryer lint if you use fabric softener!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did three different designs in a sunny spot (the featured image above.) One is ground level, two are dug down into the ground. I also built one in to a shaded hillside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know yet if the queens will choose to live in these spots, but I thought I’d share how to do it in case you’d like to build your own.

Now is the time!

This queen spent quite a bit of time drinking from the flower I placed by the front door, retreating into the house , and then coming back to drink more! I hope she makes it her new nest — time will tell.

queen bees!

This is the time of year when the young queen bumble bees leave hibernation to stock up on food and then establish a new nest. Here are some photos of the queens I’ve seen on the farm… most of them are yellow-faced bumble bees (Bombus vosnesenskii) which are very camera friendly. The last photo is a different, unidentified species who usually fly away very quickly!

This post also highlights the need to have early forage available! Crocus and pieris japonica attracted the most I’ve seen this year. Daffodil, sweet box, red-flowering currant, and my plum trees have also had some visitors.

 

Not as pretty, since she’s not in a flower… but it’s the only photo I have been able to get of a different species. These queens are camera-shy.

 

 

composting with live worms!

The first time I heard about composting with worms… I wasn’t interested. At all. But things change!

One of the reasons my mind changed, is that I read a great book about worms. It’s called the Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms.

The author has such a sweet way of engaging with worms, she really seems to love them, and her fascination rubbed off on me. The book is chock full of amazing worm stories.

Plus, worm castings are amazing fertilizer.

So, I got to researching and ended up installing a worm bin!

Happy little worm bin

I learned the most useful information from this video that explains how to do it in detail.

One tricky part was finding an appropriate place to keep them. They are not cold-hardy and they can also die from heat in the summer. Basically, they need to be in the house. Worms… in the house…?! I ended up finding a spot in the enclosed back porch. It’s part of the house, but feels a bit removed. They’ll be safely tucked away from temperature extremes and it’ll be easy to get them kitchen scraps.

If you are wondering what red wrigglers can eat… here’s a helpful graphic.

After researching options, I ordered my worms from a company called Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. Here’s the bag I received in the mail… and the worms before I covered them with wet newspaper in the bin. Very excited to see how these little creatures grow and change!