THE little flying critters that populate our garden fascinate me.
The fourth clutch of resident house swallows fledged in early January.
Whilst we sit on the verandah and enjoy our morning coffee, it’s delightful to watch about a dozen family members feeding mid-air - zipping and circling in complex loops.
Judging by the amount of guano beneath the mud nest by our front door, the larder is plentifully supplied.
As we sit, we watch bees and butterflies and other pollinators hovering and settling on the garden blooms.
The butterflies need a flattish platform to land on, and daisies are a popular choice.
There are always lots of bees – imported European honey bees are the most numerous, but if I look more closely, I often see some tiny ‘locals’. Buzzy fuzzy blue-banded bees are my favourites. Like many native bees, they are solitary. They do not store any honey in their tiny nests. Single females each mate with a male. They lay their eggs in a suitable hollow and plug it up to keep their eggs secure.
When the babies hatch, they dig their way out and fly away. Inspired, I’ve made my own lo-tech bee hotel. It’s a 20 litre metal drum filled with scrap blocks of wood into which I drilled lots of various-sized holes. It’s propped up facing east. This two-star hotel has become a popular destination for native bees to lay their eggs. Some are incubating. Others have hatched. I’m hoping that many of them will survive and not become a tasty snack for our hungry swallows. There are over 1500 different Australian native bees. To learn more, there is a new downloadable publication: “Pollinator Insects of the South West Slopes of NSW and North East Victoria –An identification and conservation guide” that can be found online at wildpollinatorcount.com/resources/guide/.
It’s a great easy-to-use resource for all ages.
HELPING HAND: A basic “bee hotel” that local woman Helen van Riet has constructed at her property near Wangaratta.