At the moment I am doing a few things in relation to wildlife issues at ‘Jeskyns’; a huge wildlife park very near with masses of tress, ponds and dog walking areas which is owned and protected by Forestry England.
Over the past years, I made a lot of Dormouse boxes (for Jeskyns) in order that we try to encourage / set up a breeding colony in the woodland. The breeding programme has been a real success and I think we are now in the top 10 sites in England for dormouse colonies and breeding.
You can see a bit more here – https://serbiananimalsvoice.com/about-us/ – scroll down a long way until you come to the pictures of all the apples from Jeskyns. Then you will see pictures of some of the dormouse boxes and our first little arrival from 2017; when we first discovered that the boxes were starting to be used for nesting / breeding.
Here are the final 3 boxes which I finished this week, and which have hung around for years unfinished !
Box fronts – the green twine secures the roof – which you unwind and slide the roof horizontally to check if a nest has been made, Slide back roof into position and re secure.
Entrance holes to box are located at the rear – mouse climbs up the tree trunk and enters through the hole to make its nest
Asleep in a constructed nest fitted within a box
August 2017 – Its a Boy ! – our first dormouse on site.
There are several other pictures of Jeskyns also; including one of the rangers with our Hedgehog houses, which was another construction project.
We are constantly working to do replacement logs for our bee hotel which we constructed several years ago. Here we are with the first finished hotel.
A pollen covered solitary bee – and new and old logs – note many chambers sealed up with mud – see below.
Bee hotels are easy to make, and you can place them anywhere – places such as Jeskyns; with large orchards; or even in your own back yard for flower pollination. It is primarily ‘solitary bees’ who use the hotel. They are much better pollinators than the traditional honey bees which we all think of. Around 7 solitary bees can pollinate a tree, which would require around 600-700 honey bees to do the same job !
A solitary bee
The bee hotel is made up of logs which have been drilled out to produce a series of chambers, or long tunnels. These must vary in width up to about quarter inch (or around 1cm) in diameter. The smallest can be about 2-3mm in diameter. Ideally each chamber or tunnel should be up to about 6 inches or 15cm long; although they can be about 4 inches / 10cm long for narrower chambers.
The solitary bee works from the rear of the chamber forward. At the back; a female egg is laid; along with some pollen for the youngster to feed on when it hatches. Once the egg has been laid, the female bee then blocks up the chamber with some wet mud. It then moves forward towards the front of the log and lays another egg ( also leaving pollen). This time the egg is for a male bee; again the chamber is sealed with mud. The bee then moves further forward and repeats the process; only now; all male eggs are laid.
When they are developed, the male bees work from the front of the log. They break through the mud barrier and fly off. The second bee in the chamber then does the same; followed in turn by all the other males. Eventually, it gets to the female at the back of the chamber. She breaks through her mud wall; goes down the tube until she is free to fly away. All the males that left earlier; wait for her to arrive; then she is impregnated by the males and the whole process starts again; with the female looking for chambers in which to lay her eggs.
Is that not amazing !
Here is a picture of our bee hotel at Jeskyns – you can see the different diameter holes in the logs for the different sized solitary bees. It has since been made much larger and given a new rain proof roof.
Above is a picture which may help you with understanding the life cycle process.
Give bees a helping hand – go construct a littyle bee hotel for your garden.
My dad was involved with the construction – he is at the hotel – but beware of lovely girl with a hammer in her hand !!: