- Place bee shelters around alfalfa seed fields.
- Protect bees from harsh environmental conditions.
- Orient shelters to the East, Southeast, or South.
- Inspect leafcutting bee domiciles.
- Follow latest spray recommendations.
I. Place bee shelters around rather than inside alfalfa seed
- Adult bees are less likely to come into direct contact with
insecticides applied to fields.
- Bees have a greater opportunity to construct nest cells with leaf
cuttings of plants other than alfalfa.
- Bees have more opportunity to use leaves that have not been
treated with insecticides.
- Shelters interfere less with farming operations.
- Shelters are usually more accessible for inspection and
- The center of the field may not be adequately pollinated if there
are too few bees.
- Locations on the edge of the fields may facilitate theft.
- Bees may cut ornamental leaves and flowers if they are located
near residential areas.
II. Protect bees from sun, rain and wind and provide shade for
nests after 8 a.m.
- Bee larvae develop best between 70° and 95°F.
- Shade protects developing bees.
- Shelters designed to provide proper shade generally also provide
adequate rain and wind protection.
- Well-designed shelters protect the bees, subject them to less
stress and increase resistance to disease.
- Costs increase proportionately with shelter design quality.
III. Orient shelters to the East, Southeast, or South
- Orientation to the North or West does not allow bees to warm up in
the morning, so flight activity may be delayed.
- Choice of East, Southeast or South depends on individual shelters
and fields, grower preference, and expected temperatures.
- Shelters oriented East or Southeast may get sun directly down the
holes of the nest tunnels. Nests could warm up too fast and some eggs
or larvae may die. Orient nest blocks so sun can't go directly down
the tunnels at any time of day.
- Shelters on the West or South side of the field may face away from
the field, possibly affecting orientation of bees to the field.
IV. Inspect leafcutting bee domiciles.
Sweep or vacuum the floor at least once each week, and
wash it down with hypochlorite solution in the evening or early morning
when the bees are not active.
Bee parasites and nest destroyers can be monitored
Dropped pollen, fallen leaf pieces and dead bees
which attract and provide food for nest-destroying insects and
spread chalkbrood disease can be removed, providing a much healthier
environment for nesting females.
Bee kills are noted more readily, and appropriate
measures may be taken.
The time required to inspect and care for bees and
IV. Follow latest
recommendations issued by the University of Idaho Extension Service and
your local extension agricultural agent.
These recommendations include only materials that
can be legally applied to your crop and detail any restrictions on
Some spray materials or combinations of materials
are more effective against harmful pests yet less harmful to
beneficial insects and bee pollinators than are other materials at
certain times of the year. Current recommendations usually include
By following the recommendation, "Check your
own fields often for both harmful and beneficial insects,"
money may be saved by spraying only when it is necessary. If pest
and beneficial insect numbers in the field are known, appropriate
and timely control decisions can be made.
If you have comments, corrections, or additions to the information provided
in this document, contact Karen.