CIS 538 rev. Part 4

Summer Management

  1. Place bee shelters around alfalfa seed fields.
  2. Protect bees from harsh environmental conditions.
  3. Orient shelters to the East, Southeast, or South.
  4. Inspect leafcutting bee domiciles.
  5. Follow latest spray recommendations.

I.  Place bee shelters around rather than inside alfalfa seed fields.


  1. Adult bees are less likely to come into direct contact with insecticides applied to fields.
  2. Bees have a greater opportunity to construct nest cells with leaf cuttings of plants other than alfalfa.
  3. Bees have more opportunity to use leaves that have not been treated with insecticides.
  4. Shelters interfere less with farming operations.
  5. Shelters are usually more accessible for inspection and maintenance.


  1. The center of the field may not be adequately pollinated if there are too few bees.
  2. Locations on the edge of the fields may facilitate theft.
  3. Bees may cut ornamental leaves and flowers if they are located near residential areas.
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II. Protect bees from sun, rain and wind and provide shade for nests after 8 a.m.


  1. Bee larvae develop best between 70 and 95F.
  2. Shade protects developing bees.
  3. Shelters designed to provide proper shade generally also provide adequate rain and wind protection.
  4. Well-designed shelters protect the bees, subject them to less stress and increase resistance to disease.


  1. Costs increase proportionately with shelter design quality.
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III.  Orient shelters to the East, Southeast, or South


  1. Orientation to the North or West does not allow bees to warm up in the morning, so flight activity may be delayed.
  2. Choice of East, Southeast or South depends on individual shelters and fields, grower preference, and expected temperatures.


  1. 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.
  2. Shelters on the West or South side of the field may face away from the field, possibly affecting orientation of bees to the field.
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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.


  1. Bee parasites and nest destroyers can be monitored more easily.

  2. 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.

  3. Bee kills are noted more readily, and appropriate measures may be taken.


  1. The time required to inspect and care for bees and domiciles.

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IV.  Follow latest spray application recommendations issued by the University of Idaho Extension Service and your local extension agricultural agent.


  1. These recommendations include only materials that can be legally applied to your crop and detail any restrictions on their use.

  2. 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 this information.

  3. 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.

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If you have comments, corrections, or additions to the information provided in this document, contact Karen.
CIS 538 Contents:
Phase out
Shelter Size and Design
Nesting Material
Buying bees and/or loose cells
Avoiding theft; Purchase precautions.
Pollination Ecology

Revised Nov. 18, 2000.