When we first dug the post holes for the bee house, it was winter. It was a clear, sunny day, but only 30cm underground it was a river. Now, the soil has hardened again and already cracks are forming where the sun has touched between the tussocks. It is the time of insects: the long grass shimmers with the darting of grasshoppers and butterflies, the red gums are awash with ants and centipedes uncurl in dark, hidden places. It’s a good time to introduce our first livestock – bees – and to finally complete their shelter: the Bee House.
The Bee House is our first foray into construction on the block. Located near the dam, it will provide a ready water supply for the bees and some shelter from the sun and rain during the most challenging times of the year. Perched inside one of our future habitat zones, over time a pink gum and red gum woodland will grow up around it, providing further shelter from the wind as well as nectar and pollen forage. With limited building experience, we were also keen to embrace this as an opportunity to build our own knowledge and skills in preparation for more ambitious projects.
Built from almost entirely salvaged materials, The Bee House utilises reclaimed timber for most of its construction, topped with found corrugated iron from one of the gullies. We’ve converted a wine barrel into an experimental rainwater tank (this blog, and the links it contains was especially useful), and perched it on a base of demolition rubble, also courtesy of a nearby gully. We’ve recently spotted our very first reptile on the property, a robust looking gecko, and hope that the rubble tank base will provide further lizard habitat.
Two weeks after arriving, the bees in the first TBC hive don’t appear to have any plans to move on. They’re calm and busily drawing out comb from the frames, and we’re still pondering the wisdom of donating the the only shelter on the property to thousands of stinging insects.