Bee homes built

Visitors to the New Ulm Community Garden learned how to make simple bee homes. The bees occupying the home will help pollinate the nearby gardens. Staff photo by Clay Schuldt

NEW ULM — Visitors to New Ulm’s Community Garden learned about Minnesota’s bee population and helped construct homes Thursday.

Minneopa Area Department of Natural Resources naturalist Scott Kudelka gave step-by-step instructions on how to build a simple bee home and provided basic information on native bee species.

Minnesota has between 350 and 400 known types of bees. This includes the honey bee, but also the bumblebee, carpenter bee, longhorn bee, cuckoo bee, shiny green sweet bee and hundreds of others.

The reason for creating bee homes is to attract pollinators. Pollinators are responsible for helping grow flowers and fruits. Bees alone are responsible for pollinating 80 percent of flowering plants. The dying off of bees is a great concern for the environment. Placing bee homes near a garden can be beneficial for flowers.

Kudelka used cedar logs to create bee homes. Three holes of different sizes are drilled into one end of the log. The different holes allow the home to be used by different bee species.

A handle is attached to the house and hung from a tree or post. Kudelka said the house should be placed in the south to south-east direction with partial sun and shade. Bees cannot regulate their body temperature. The bees need both shade and sun.

Kudelka said there were other more complex bee home designs available on websites, but the design he demonstrated could be created with minimal time and tools.

Kudelka offered other gardening tips for promoting bees. He suggested limiting the use of herbicides or insecticides. Planting a variety of native flowers will help feed bees. Non-native flowers may not benefit bees because the bees are adapted to the native plant life.

Even though several bee species will use artificial homes constructed by humans, around 30 percent of bee species create nests in the ground. To encourage ground nesting bees, Kudelka suggests leaving the ground untouched. Adding woodchips will hinder the creation of ground nests.

The New Ulm Community Garden recently received a Healthy Connections grant from Allina to help host activities like this during the summer. Monday, June 17, the community garden will have a birdhouse program.

The Community Garden is located at 1915 S. Valley St. near the former Putting Green site. The garden has been in operation for six years. The garden has 75 plots. Most of the plots are spoken for but manager Emily Korbel said a few are still available.

To sign up, gardeners can visit the website Puttinggreen.org or visit the facebook page facebook.com/newulmcommunitygarden.