Bee hotel

Expansion bee hotel: clay nest block

A couple of years ago we started visiting the tulip fields in Zeeland. They are a bit closer to home and it is not so crowded as the more famous fields up north. During the visits I noticed the loamy clay used to grow the flowers. Could this be used to construct a bee hotel?
This year I took two buckets of clay home to construct a clay block in which bees and wasps can dig.

To soften the clay the buckets were filled to the rim with water and the clay was left to soak for a couple of weeks. When it was soft I squeezed the lumps manually and removed all hard parts like rocks, metal etc. Using a drill and mixer the clay sludge was smoothed out like plaster and poured into a wooden box frame to harden. During several weeks the water got time to drip out and evaporate. During the hardening process it did crack, but further crack development was stopped by placing the block on its side in the final position as seen in the photo. Originally the idea was to hang the block high on the wall but I’m afraid the wooden frame will not hold out long with the weight of the clay so instead it now rests on top of the diggerwasp hill.

Bee hotel Section I, block 2

The clay has almost completely hardened. The first inhabitant was a spider that build its lair in the large crack. Apart from that the block is visited by at least three spider wasps Auplopus carbonarius that collect the clay to built their nests with. More about this later.

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