Protocol

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Data Submission

Once a week we will send you a google form by email or WhatsApp for data collection. 

You will have to fill in basic information (your name, the date etc) and then complete two tasks. 

The first task is to upload two pictures of your bee hotel. New pictures need to be taken every week so that we can see the Solitary bees' behaviour over time. As you can see, your bee hotel is divided into two parts by a pencil line. The first picture must be showing all of the holes above the pencil line and the second picture must be showing all of the holes below the pencil line. Every hole needs to be visible so it is important to take the picture from directly in front of the bee hotel and not at an angle. 

Please try to make sure that the pictures are of decent quality so that we can see if there is any activity in the holes. Phone cameras are perfectly suitable. Use these pictures below as an example of what is expected.

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The second task is to fill in a grid that corresponds to your bee hotel. The grid has three columns and 13 rows (the same as your bee hotel). The top row of your bee hotel only has two columns, for these holes only use column one and two on the grid. If you see any activity in a hole or if a hole is sealed off by a Solitary bee then you must tick the box that matches that hole. 

The first picture illustrates what you must look for on your bee hotel and the second picture shows you how to tick the correct box on the google form. You can tick as many boxes as necessary.

What to look
for

We are documenting the rate at which the bee hotels in different areas fill up with Solitary bees. Thus we are interested in the holes that have been occupied by a Solitary bee. These can be identified by nest building materials sticking out of the hole, a seal over the hole, or by actually seeing a Solitary bee coming in and out of the hole. 

Different species of Solitary bees use different materials to build their nests. These include mud, leaves, plant fibres, resin, a cellophane-like material etc. While the bees are building their nests they are making separate chambers within their hole for each of their offspring to grow in. The chambers will be filled with provisions (pollen, nectar) for the offspring and they will be separated by the building materials mentioned above. When the female Solitary bee has completed her nest and has laid all her eggs she will then seal off the hole for the winter months. The hole will also be sealed with those same building materials. Thus, you may see the holes in the bee hotel at different stages of the nest building process. It may not always be easy to know if a hole is occupied in the early stages. It might also be more difficult to see what is happening in the small holes at the bottom. We recommend spending some time each week just watching your bee hotels. Not only will it allow you to fully enjoy your bee hotel and gain further understanding of these wonderful Solitary bees but it will also help you identify which holes the bees are living in. Remember that Solitary bees come in all sorts of sizes, body shapes and colours so they may not always resemble a "typical bee". 

Below are some examples of what to expect:

Membrane bee

Membrane bees secrete a white cellophane-like substance from their mouths that they use to seal their nests.

Leaf cutter bee

Leaf cutter bee sealing her nest with leaves.

Leaf cutter bee

Leaf cutter bee partitioning her nest, with leaves, into chambers for her eggs.

Allodapula bees

Allodapula bees do not seal their nests. Instead they close them off with their backsides.

Membrane bee

Membrane bees secrete a white cellophane-like substance from their mouths that they use to seal their nests.

Resin bee

Resin bee sealing her nest with a resin that she produces.

Mud bee

This bee is sealing her nest with mud.

Full bee hotel

Most holes closed with leaves, two (left) with cellophane and the bottom three holes are occupied by allodapula bees.

Full bee hotel

Example of an occupied bee hotel. Most of the hole are sealed off (with mud, resin, cellophane) for the winter

Full bee hotel

Inside all of these sealed nests are newly born Solitary bees waiting to emerge in the Spring! They have been eating, growing and maturing all winter.

Empty and full bee hotel

Comparison of a new and empty bee hotel (left) to a full bee hotel.