Posted by: buzzybeegirl | September 25, 2008

Magic Metal Mesh Covering

My post ‘Stick storage guide’ brought on some great questions from my blog readers. One of my readers, Forkboy, had a question regarding my bee catching methods. I thought I should blog about it. After all, if he is wondering how I do this there has to be others that are wondering the same thing.

So how is it that a piece of metal mesh and duct tape will catch me some bees. Is it magical metal mesh or just a crazy idea I thought may work? I have to admit that it is the latter. It is a crazy idea that I think may work. At least I am hoping it may work.

Here is my logic…The bee nests are just elderberry stems with holes drilled at the top. Here is a picture of what they look like.

Artificial bee nest made from Elderberry stems

Artificial bee nest made from Elderberry stems

The stick is partially drilled, about 6 inches down. This is where the bees lay their eggs. Inside the sticks. When the bees are done filling up the stick with babies, they close off the entrance with various substances, like small rocks.

artificial bee nest entrance closed off with small rocks

artificial bee nest entrance closed off with small rocks

The baby bees will eat and grow inside the sticks. They will then pupate and spin a cocoon. All this happens inside the stick. The baby bees stay inside the stick until they become adult bees. Depending on the species of bee, this may take a few weeks to a year. The bees I study will stay inside for a year.

Once the bees become adults, they are ready to enter the world. They burst through their cocoons and they begin digging their way up towards the entrance of the stick.

This is where the metal mesh comes into play. I wrap the top of the stick, the entrance, with metal mesh. So when the bees decide to emerge, they will dig their way to the top of the stick, climb out of the hole at the top of the stick. The bees cannot fly anywhere. The mesh acts as a dome. Here is an illustration (warning:the graphics are bad, but this is all I could do with powerpoint).

bee catching devise

bee catching devise

Here is what it would be like if you were the bee…Imagine living in a house with no windows and only 1 door, the front door. One day you leave the house and there is a giant metal cage covering your front door. You can step out a few feet, but that is all. You are now trapped. You can take a few steps outside your door, but you cannot leave. This is what the bee faces. They become trapped and stay inside the cage.

This will help me catch the bees and identify them down to species. Does this make sense Forkboy? Please let me know any questions…it’s fun addressing them.


  1. when do you let them out of the stick/mesh dealie?

  2. Got it. And the sticky tape is simply to close off the top of the mesh?

    Perhaps part of my lack of seeing this all the way through was the idea that a rather large bee would emerge from the stick and the amount of space afforded it looks awfully small. I hadn’t really considered that baby bees might be rather tiny.

    The next question that pops to mind is do you intend to keep only one of the baby bees for your research and let the rest go from the stick nursery or will you be looking all of them over?

  3. I love you all for asking such great questions =-)
    So goodbear: I will let the bees out once they emerge…whenever that is. It looks like next Spring.

    And Forkboy: The mesh does look small, but for the sticks that I know had medium sized bees,the mesh is taller so all can fit. Unfortunately I have to keep at least one bee so I can identify it down to species. I do not want to keep the others, so I will let them go. I do not like to kill bees or other insects if I don’t have to. I just need 1. The others will be set free.

  4. Does that mean you will have to kill the one you are going to identify and/or study?

  5. Unfortunately the bee that I keep will be sacrificed. I don’t like to do that, but there is no way around it.

  6. At the very least I hope you wear cool robes, burn incense and chant things that sound vaguely Latin when you do it.

    At least it would look cool then 😉

  7. it will probably be more like something from indiana jones and the temple of doom…

  8. Hi, I just dropped by but I learned something new today. Thank you for explaining this in simple terms. I’ve always thought that bee catching involved incantations or special prayers.. Will be back soon.

  9. I like whips….so I guess that would be okay too!

  10. Thanks for dropping by Feyoh.

    And Forkboy…of course there will be whips. How else do you tame the bees?

  11. Well you’ll also need a wood framed chair and a top hat that says “Lion Tamer”, but with “Lion” crossed out and “Bee” written in.

    That sounds about right…

  12. I feel like I can start my own tour of bee taming

  13. […] had been looking for. I had seen them out in the field, but some did not develop or emerge into the metal mesh that I placed over the nest entrance. I wanted to look for these bees so I would know what species […]

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