How and when to use your BeeFoster Nurseries
Raising native bees is both art and science. There are thousands of varieties of native bees and your particular location is unique to all others. In general, you should mount your Nursery at least 3 feet above the ground and within 300 feet of flowering plants and a mud source. If you don't have a mud source, it's a good idea to let a hose run near the Nursery every other day or so. Better yet, dig a couple holes nearby to expose some dirt. Face your Nursery south or southeast to catch the morning sun and try to provide afternoon shade so the bees don't get too hot.
Mount the Nursery somewhere secure
We're tree farmers, so we have lots of tools and scrap wood around the shop. In this case, we screwed a couple 2x4's together. Then we used fender washers and wood screws to hold the Blue3 Nursery in place. Because we live in the Ozarks, there isn't much soil on the hillsides, so we use rocks to make the setup more secure. However, you can also attach your nursery to a fence, hand rail, or anywhere else that ensures it stays put.
The BeeFoster timeline
It is ideal to place your Nursery in early spring when the bees start to become active, when the temperature is consistently 55 degrees or higher. After it has been set up, all you have to do is sit back and watch the bees work until they are done for the year. In October, or after plants are no longer flowering, your bees will be dormant in their tubes. At this point you may either leave your Nursery outside or place it in a cool, dry place over the winter until the temperature outside is warm again. In the spring the bees will emerge and begin the cycle all over. It is a good idea to have another Nursery ready for the bees to move in and start laying their eggs.
When will the bees move in?
Unfortunately there's no way to guarantee that bees will be attracted to your nursery right away. This depends on a large number of factors, including quantity of native plants nearby, mud and water availability, and pesticide use in your area. Be patient! Boost your chances by placing your Nursery as early in the year as possible. Better yet, plant a native flower garden to really draw them in. If you want to see the bees in action, try taking a flashlight to your nursery at dusk. If there are bees inside, you will see them nestled in their tubes.
Manage your expectations
Remember, the reason we're doing this is that bee populations are crashing. You may not see all your tubes fill up and it could be that your local ecosystem doesn't support a large number of bees. Don't get discouraged and remember that every tube filled is a big step in the right direction. Do you see pollinator activity in your nursery? Amazing! Feel free to let us know and send pics to firstname.lastname@example.org or on social media.