Flower Stem Bee Nests – November, 2013

Before cutting back and composting the end-of-season flower stalks in your garden this month, you might consider salvaging some of that material for easy-to-make bee nests. For example, most leafcutter bees, mason bees, yellow-faced bees, and more will happily nest in the dry, hollow stems of many common garden plants. The process is simple:

  • Using shears, or a fine-toothed saw, clip hollow stems into 6- to 8-inch lengths.
  • Use stems with natural nodes on one end (to create a dead end that you can’t see through).
  • Use a variety of stem diameters, from 1/8 inch for small solitary wasps and yellow-faced bees, to ½ inch for big carpenter bees.
  • Bundle the tubes together with string or wire and hang them horizontally in a sheltered location.

Depending on where you live, lots of common native plants have perfect stems for this project, such as cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum) and eastern gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides) in the east, to gumweed (Grindelia spp.) and various sunflowers (Helianthus spp.) in the west. You can even use the dead stems of invasive weeds for the same purpose — Phragmites reed, bamboo, and teasel all work well.

Hang your nests now, and when spring arrives, pollinators will find one more reason to stick around.

To read previous months’ tips, please click here.