In the urban and suburban landscape, where old trees are culled from property, lawns are impeccably manicured and pesticides are applied liberally, where can a solitary bee find an old beetle hole to call home?
Thanks to eco-entrepreneurs and artisans Kate Sandahl and Gordy Baylis, native solitary bees, important pollinators who, like their more famous cousins the honey bees, are in decline, now have affordable and comfortable options for housing at Buzzed Inn, Solitary Bee Hotels.
Sandahl and Baylis make handcrafted, colorful "bee hotels" designed specifically for solitary bees. They are built to last several seasons and are easy to use and maintain. Sandahl recommends that bee houses be placed in any green space, usually in or near a flower garden. She says they should be hung securely 3-6 feet off the ground and preferably facing east or southeast.
"In the beginning of winter, late November, bring it in to the garage or shed and the bees will be dormant," she says. "You then bring them back out in late March." Sandahl says you know when the houses are occupied because the holes are mudded over or plugged up with leaves.
Currently the duo sells houses at the Fulton Street Artisan's Market on Sundays. They are also approved vendors at the Fulton Street Farmers Market and at the Metro Health Farmers Market and are occasionally at those markets. They plan on doing a few craft and art shows over the fall and winter months. The hotels also are sold online at www.buzzedinn.com.
"I've always been intrigued by gardening and I have friends who have huge gardens and know how essential bees are to gardens," says Sandahl.
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Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor