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. Check out our Field Guide for some help on how to place it. 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.
Why haven't the bees moved in yet?
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. If you nursery has been outside for several weeks with no activity, shoot us a question and we'll try to help you out.
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.
When your tubes start to fill
Native bees are mostly small, solitary and shy. You have to look hard to see one (with the exception of bumble bees). They will need to find your BeeFoster nursery but when they do, you'll start to see tubes filling up and capped with mud like you see below. Each tube can hold 7-10 bees, so in the middle picture, you've already made homes for 40-50 bees! The picture on the right shows how leaf-cutter bees plug their homes with chewed-up leaf fragments.
Leave them outside or store them for the winter
We've written a whole section about storing and protecting your baby bees during the winter. See how we did that here.