Ben’s Bat Boxes
Now you might ask, why is Ben making bat boxes? They don’t have much to do with bees!
There are around 1100 species of bat around the world. Australia is home to around 90 species and they can be divided into two main groups. The first type are megabats, most usually called flying foxes, that have a wingspan of up to 1 metre. They feed on fruit, blossoms and nectar, and have well developed eyes and a strong sense of smell that allows them to move around and find food. They live in small social groups in trees known as a “camp” or “colony”. These are the bats we most usually associate with the mass migration that fills the skies in summer. These bats eat a diet of mostly fruit and can actually help pollinate many species of flowers as they forage at night on the nectar they love to consume.
However, I am most fascinated by the second, pocket-sized variety of bat. Microbats are tiny bats around 4 cm in length with a wingspan of just 25 cm. Unlike megabats, microbats use a navigation process known as echolocation to navigate in complete darkness with some species spending their days deep within caves. Others can be found resting beneath bark on trees and in manmade structures such as houses and buildings. In Victoria, there are 21 species of microbat, although it is likely that you have missed them due to their inaudible screech, tiny size and happy-hiding abilities. Little do you know, but there may be some microbats snuggled in a nook in a tree in your own backyard, darting around when you least expect it.
As I’m always outdoors tending to the bees, I’m often under attack by mosquitos. Now this may sound strange but I would actually prefer to be stung by a bee than bitten by a mosquito; the itch from a mosquito bite can last hours, but what’s even more scary is mosquitos pose a greater threat to human life than any other animal on the planet! Yes that’s right, mosquitos! Almost 1 million people die around the world each year from diseases that mosquitos carry, including Zika virus, Dengue fever and Ross River fever. The more I thought about this, the more nervous I became: I’m always emptying small buckets or puddles of water and revelling in seeing mosquito wrigglers dying. However, I can’t control what happens around me, in my neighbours garden for example. The more I thought about it, and worried, I realised I needed to think of a solution.
This is where the bat boxes come in. Despite their diminutive size, microbats serve a unique purpose, consuming thousands of insects that cause damage to crops and threaten humans (notably, the treacherous mozzie)! In fact, a single microbat can consume over 1000 mosquitos in a single night – that’s more than I could easily swat away! Therefore, it is important we do our best to provide happy homes for Australia’s microbats.
My bat boxes use the same materials as the beehives I make. They are made from sustainably produced, radiate pine from Victoria. The are made so that a colony of microbats can live in each box. Now think about it, that’s a lot of mosquito-eating! I flame torch the wood and the boxes are wax dipped for 10 minutes at 160.c. This will preserve the wood from the elements yet give the microbats the perfect box to call home each day. The bat box should be placed in a tree that’s a minimum of 4 metres high. Face the box in a north-east direction and, if your budget allows, ensure two or more boxes are placed around your property to give the bats a choice of where to rest.
I’m sure you probably hate mosquitos just as much as I do, so I’ve decided to make these bat boxes free freight anywhere in Australia! To claim this, just click the pickup option when you’re at the checkout, and the bat box will be delivered directly to your front door.
Let’s provide some homes for the bats and keep those mozzies at bay!