Not all of us have gardens or the ability to support native bee species with native plantlife. If you’re looking for an easy way to help your local pollinator populations, a bee hotel is a great option. Bee hotels range in sizes from small birdhouse like structures to huge installations in peoples gardens. The wonderfulthing about the small bee hotels is that if you have a surface and the ability to secure a small bee hotel outside… well, they can be a wonderful addition to the biodiversity of your ecosystem and, hey, they look really cute.
When you get a bee hotel you’re helping solitary bees. Solitary bees don’t live in a hive, they make nests and lay their young in untended dirt patches (important to have in your garden), stones, bricks, and other crafty places. So while most solitary bees don’t need a bee hotel to survive in your ecosystem or yard, bee hotels help strained populations of native pollinators. And right now, most native pollinator populations are strained. When you help your native bee species, you help your ecosystems biodiversity. If you live in a city, this might mean helping to strengthen weakened populations who will in turn help to strengthen gardens… which helps birds and other animals!
Read my latest blog post on “Bee-ing”: A Guide To Spotting Native Bees to learn more about Solitary Bee species and how to spot them in the wild.
When I started learning more about bees, I noticed that there was this dirt patch in our front window. Something we’d never cleaned because with the little holes in it… it felt it had a purpose to something out there that we didn’t see. Sure enough, when spring came, leafcutter bees used it as a nest and closed up the hole with their signature leafy plug. Getting excited about the fact that there were leafcutter bees closeby needing a boost, I bought an affordable bee hotel online. I had considered making my own one but I kept putting it off… then I got overhwelmed so I figured it was just best to get one at all rather than make one myself. With some research I decided on this one (pictured). The reason I liked this one is because it had an overhang to protect the tube enterances and the tubes were removable so I could properly clean the house for years more use.
My husband and I secured the beehotel around 5 feet off the ground to a drain. While that wasn’t the most ideal thing, it was the only option at our little apartment that worked and made sure it was on the right side of the house. When it was secured, it didn’t wiggle at all.
Over the spring and summer I would watch excidedly watch as solitary native bees would fill their nests. I tried to be quick enough to catch them on camera many times, but it turned out it was hard to catch these solitary bees in the act – they’re fast! Sometimes though I’d forget to take out my camera and just sit and watch them making their nests… watching nature at work. The solitary bees fill the tubes with layers of eggs and dividers of mud or leaves (depending on the type of bee) and keep going until the tube is filled.
Over the fall and winter the adult bees will die and the baby bees will slowly go through stages becoming larvae and then bees. They will exit their nests in the spring ready to start the process over again!
Solitary bees are the unsung heros of the pollinator world! Solitary bees do so much good for our gardens, plants, and food, I think it’s time we give them a little help too.
Purchase a bee hotel
- The Bee Hotel featured in my photos. I did really like this one because of the removable bamboo sticks and overhanging roof.
- Hexigonal Bee Hotel with Paper Straws
- Bee Hotel with large overhang and more nesting tubes
- Cedar Mason Bee Hotel
- Replacable nesting tubes