The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Smaller bee nest block

Cut two by fours

Drilling holes in a small bee nest blockMy firewood nest block will require some upkeep to prevent it from turning into a breeding ground for bee pests and diseases.  An alternative to this type of maintenance is to make lots of small nest blocks with only four to six tunnels apiece and space the blocks of wood 25 or more feet apart around your property.  Smaller nest blocks will naturally decompose faster and will also spread the bees out --- think of them as comfortable small town environments for bees.

To make one of these "small bee towns", cut some scrap 2X4s into eight inch lengths.  Then drill holes in one end using the same criteria I used for my firewood nest block.
Char a block in the wood stove
Smaller wooden blocks are much easier to char by placing them in the wood stove until they catch fire, then running them under water until all sizzling stops.

Bee nest holes

Bee nest on side of house
The last step is to mount the blocks on easy-to-find landmarks that get morning sun.  I put one small town bee nest on the side of the East Wing and another on a post in the mule garden.  Hopefully, spreading the nests out will tempt the bees to visit several parts of the garden rather than sticking to one area.

Bee nest block in garden

Stay tuned for yet more bee suburbs tomorrow!

Our chicken waterer never spills or fills with POOP.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Anna - how deep do you drill the holes? I might make some of these this week :-)
Comment by De Wed Dec 28 10:01:40 2011
Good question --- I should have put that in the post. Smaller holes (less than 1/4" in diameter) should be 3 to 5 inches deep while the wider holes should be 5 to 6 inches deep. So, look for long drill bits! And, if possible, find bits that will make the inside of the hole as smooth as possible.
Comment by anna Wed Dec 28 10:59:49 2011
These things turn our wooden structures like outbuildings, barns and porches into swiss cheese. Does making condos for them lead them away from our other structures, or just increase their numbers overall?
Comment by Everett Wed Dec 28 11:41:34 2011
I was pondering that, actually, and I don't have any really good data. I do know that the large carpenter bees you're talking about are one of the few species who hollow out wood cavities themselves, so making them holey blocks of wood probably wouldn't make any difference one way or another. What I wonder is --- could you install some wood that's somehow more conducive that would tempt them to drill there instead of in structural wood? I just don't know, unfortunately.
Comment by anna Wed Dec 28 13:43:31 2011

Be careful with that miter saw.

In my student days I worked as a temp in a wood processing plant for a couple of months. Us temps were easy to recognize; we were generally the only people who still had ten complete fingers...

Comment by Roland_Smith Wed Dec 28 16:42:02 2011
I tend to be very leery of power tools, so I'm very careful.
Comment by anna Wed Dec 28 17:29:28 2011
I love the look on Lucy'e face. "I hope she knows what she is doing and will be vey careful!"
Comment by Sheila Wed Dec 28 20:14:33 2011
It's so nice to have someone who's always interested in what we're up to and looking out for our best interests. :-)
Comment by anna Wed Dec 28 20:42:17 2011

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