Bee Habitat Sculptures
Art meets Ecology in support of native pollinators
Arizona is home to more than 1300 species of bees. These important pollinators
do their work with little notice and less credit while the honeybee, an imported
species from Europe and Africa, gets all the attention. Honeybees form colonies as large as 50,000 individuals and are the killer bees we hear about in gruesome stories of attacks on humans and animals. In contrast, our native species are mostly solitary docile creatures that nest in holes in the ground or in dead trees and visit cacti, wildflowers and native trees and shrubs for pollen and nectar. In turn, they guarantee the successful fruiting of those plants. They are unruffled by human presence and will sting only if caught and even then, the sting is much less potent than that of a honeybee or wasp.
The sculptures illustrated are made from recycled wood and steel and were created to support leafcutter bees. The wood is drilled with small tunnels that the females use for nesting. Normally they would nest in dead tree branches where beetles have drilled holes for them, but in urban areas we tend to remove dead material for aesthetic or safety reasons and the bees go wanting for nest sites.
A female bee will cut small pieces of leaves and shove them into the end of a
tunnel and then deposit pollen, nectar and an egg. She will repeat the process
until there are several cells containing eggs in each tunnel. The bee then seals
the tunnel with chewed leaves, resin, sand or a combination of materials and
leaves the eggs to develop and hatch on their own in a matter of weeks or months. She might repeat this process in several tunnels during her life of one or two months. Bee habitat sculptures are a great way to support pollinators that are essential for the health of our desert ecosystem.