THIS week has been National Pollinators' Week, a time when we are encouraged to pay tribute to our insect pollinators, without which 90 per cent of the world's plants would not exist.
Much of the pollination heavy lifting is done by bees.
When we think of bees, we generally think of the introduced honey bee, which is the most visible and numerous I our gardens.
However, Australia is home to around 1600 species of native bee, which are also essential to plant pollination.
Native bees generally do not form hives as do honey bees. They are solitary, building their nests in pre-existing cavities, such as old borer holes, hollow stems, and small cracks and crevices.
In urban areas, these sites are in short supply. We can help them by creating for placement in our backyards an artificial environment in the form of a bee hotel.
A bee hotel is a simple structure designed to replicate native bee nesting environment.
It consists of a simple box, made from untreated, preferably recycled hardwood filled with cylindrical objects of differing diameters in which native bees can lay their eggs.
On Tuesday this week Regional Landcare, with the assistance of the Lucknow Mens' Shed, held a workshop on how to construct a bee hotel.
Participants built their own bee hotel from materials such as bamboo, sticks, bark, straw and small logs, which were provided by Landcare organisers.
Liz Davis, Regional Landcare Facilitator and workshop leader, also reminded us that if our bee hotel is to be successful, we need to provide a nearby food source for our native bees throughout the year.
Plants we can grow in our gardens to provide food for native bees include grevillias, correas and callistamons.
Exotic bee attractors include salvias, hebe, diorama and dahlia.
Native bees are also attracted to herbs such as basil, thyme, oregano, sage, parsley, bergamot and coriander.
A wide variety of vegetables such as tomatoes and peas provide food for native bees.
In return they provide essential pollination.
Lucknow Mens' Shed representative Denis Barton said that his organisation was pleased to be involved in the construction of the boxes for the workshop.
The shed has no plans to go into mass production, but are prepared to build boxes for bee hotels on request.
For more information on bee hotels, simply search online for ‘build a bee hotel’.
Information about native bees can also be obtained at www.beesbusiness.com.au or on facebook.com/groups/beeawareofyournativebees.