This year, I am putting greater importance on my pollinators habitat in my garden and doing a couple of little things to help them. I already have beehives but natives are also popping up on spring-summer months, and it is my duty to mother earth to provide food and shelter for them.
I will populate my front garden with a good mix of flowering plants for the bees.
I noticed that my aquaponics is also a good source of fresh, oxygenated water for my honey bees as well as natives. I have seen solitary Blue-banded bees and some other stingless bees. For a list of Australian native bees, check here.
While I was hanging out at the permaculture forums, I also stumbled to Oscar Perone who is the inventor of Perone Hive and the philosophy Permapiculture. As you might know, once he announced the Perone hive and permapiculture, he has disappeared from interwebs and deleted his websites. He moved to Argentine and is giving classes on permapiculture as well as developing PermaMeliponiculture which he designed a hive for stingless bees. His video on YouTube about PermaMeliponiculture is very informative and has got English subtitles embedded. If you would like to know about Meliponiculture, check out this PDF here.
I looked into getting stingless bees in Canberra, but the winter temperatures are so cold for them that they require a particular hive type to go through the winter. There was one company I’ve seen at Floriade who were working on a solar powered, heated hive for stingless bees but it seems like too much effort and it doesn’t really fit into the permaculture philosophy. If you would like to get more information on stingless bees in your area, check out this website.
One of my friends gifted me with a bug hotel, and I put that next to my aquaponics. I am checking it regularly but I haven’t seen any bugs in there yet. I am hoping it will be the right nest for solitary bees in winter.
My house walls are home to mud dauber bees, and their nest are phenomenal.
Since I have honey bees in my garden, I am not allowing any pesticides, insecticides or chemicals to go into my yard. Neem oil, Bacillus thuringiensis (product name Dipel) and spinosad are some of the things I use as a pesticide that doesn’t harm the bees. Neem oil may hurt the bees, but I usually spray it in the evening hours while the honey bees are in their hives.
With diversified foraging resources, less/no insecticides, nesting boxes and clean water I want to support our little helpers. If you have an orchard, you might want to cut the grass on one row while leaving another row intact for caterpillars, bugs and pollinators to forage too.