Saturday, May 25, 2013

Solitary bees in my flower garden

As you may know from reading my very first blog post, or from the "About Us" page on the blog, I don't keep my honey bees at my home, but at my father's. One of the reasons we decided to do this was because of the restrictive regulations on keeping beehives in the city. I may cross that bridge eventually, but not right now.

Well, bees will be bees, and they'll go wherever there are flowers to collect nectar and pollen from, regardless of whether or not city officials and neighbors want them. Yesterday while I was weeding our front flower garden and putting down wood chips, I ran into 4-5 of these little buggers flying around...


Some quick online research revealed that these are Andrenid Bees. They are small, native, solitary bees that build nests in a small, pencil sized hole they dig in the ground. Here's some info:
UMN - Solitary Bees with a Twist
UMN - Andrenid Bees

I've known about solitary bees before. In fact, I remember some bees digging tunnels in the sandbox at my parents' house when I was a kid. I've also known that you can build houses for various types of solitary bees, but never did much research. So I did a little last night. It seems that many of these native bees are even more prolific pollinators than honey bees! Plus their homes are super easy to build, inconspicuous, and probably wouldn't bother the neighbors in the city too much. Maybe I'll take up a project soon and build a house for some bees here. Then I can be a city beekeeper as well!

Bumble Bee Homes
How to make a bumble bee nest
Providing bumble bee nest sites
Plans for building bumble bee nest boxes

Orchard Mason Bee Homes
How to build a bee house
How to construct a sturdy, all wood mason bee house
Bring on the bees


  1. Matt,

    I'm enjoying your blog. I'll keep reading, especially about the top-bar hives. I made one two summers ago, but haven't yet installed bees as I've feared they wouldn't last the winter. I'm interested to see what you are doing to help them survive the winters in MN.

    More to the topic of this post, however, I recently photographed what I think is a Metallic Green Bee. I'll try to post a link to that blog post in case you or your readers are interested.


    1. Shane,

      Thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you've enjoyed the content I've put up so far. When I started this blog, I couldn't really find any info on keeping bees in top bar hives in MN (or other cold climates), so that's my big hope, that this blog will be helpful to others looking for that kind of info. Since I started the blog, I did find one very good blog from a gentleman in Canada who started with Kenyan Top Bar Hives and has now switched to Warre Hives. His site is Did you build a Kenyan or Warre hive? What's your overwintering success with the Langs?

      That Metallic Green Bee is beautiful! Haven't seen that kind before!

      Thanks again,

  2. I made a Kenyan. I'll have to do a post about it soon. It won a blue ribbon at the county fair, but I think it was mostly because they weren't quite sure what to make of it!

    This is my first year with bees, too. I have one hive of Carniolans and one of Italians. So far, so good.

    For the Kenyan to make it through the winter, I have a thought that I might have to fashion some sort of box with more bars, to place above it and expand the hive that way...

    I agree with your thought on the wax. I have foundation now (wax-coated plastic). Once they are all drawn out and 2 - 3 years old, I plan to swap out a third of them each year for foundationless frames. Keep the wax new, harvest the old, and get the plastic out of the hive.

    A long-running blog ( has a lot of information on working w/o foundation, crush and strain honey harvests, etc.

    One more thing... If you haven't made a solitary bee house, it's a fun and simple project. You could probably even keep it in town as there probably are no ordinances addressing them. I've got one out in our prairie, and it sees good use year after year.

    There's another post I need to do sometime soon...