By: Michael Fox
Kids and mud … always a winning formula.
Jake Slinger and I led a Pollinator Link® workshop for the Nature Rangers at Downfall Creek Bushland Centre yesterday.
Australia has over 2,000 species of solitary native bees. Solitary bees do not form live in a hive or produce honey however they are the most effective pollinators for our backyard vegetable gardens.
Blue Banded Amegilla sp. and Teddy Bear Amegilla sp. native bees do buzz pollination. Blue Banded bees shake pollen out by banging the flower with its head. Common edible plants such as tomatoes, blueberries and eggplant need buzz pollination which cannot be provided by European Honey bees.
Kids and mud
Homes for Burrowers (Shelter)
Female Blue Banded and Teddy Bear bees make nests in the ground which they fill with pollen and nectar, lay their eggs then seal. When the egg hatch in spring the young bees feed on the stored food before burrowing out and getting to work pollinating our vegetable gardens.
Step 1: Make the mud. Garden soil, add water then stir with lots of laughter.
Step 2: Make a mud pie in concrete block. Add more laughter.
Step 3: Finish with starter holes for bees wanting to nest.
Leave Bee Home to dry then install in a place sheltered from rain.
Homes for Birds
Bee Homes completed, the Nature Rangers worked on building nest boxes to provide homes for birds. Clearing trees for building houses means that there is a lack of nest hollows for birds and other species like Squirrel Gliders Petaurus norfolcensis.
Timber for the nest boxes is reused hardwood ply donated by Benchmark Scaffolding at Yatala and pre-cut at Carina Mens Shed. Box design came from “Nest boxes for wildlife: A practical guide” by Alan & Stacey Franks of Hollow Log Homes.
First step in box construction is learning to use a hammer correctly. It is less about size and strength and more about letting the weight of the hammer to do the work.
Everyone had a go at using a hammer and quickly got the hang of letting the hammer do the work. “That is much easier.”
Another tip we shared is to blunt nail heads when nailing timber that splits easily.
Jigs simplify construction
Jigs prepared at Carina Mens Shed are used to simplify assembly.
Finished nest boxes ready for installation
New homes ready for installation. The Downfall Creek team will arrange installation of the new homes for our homeless urban birds.