During the winter we looked at an easy way to build a “bee hotel” to attract solitary bees to your garden. Solitary bees — mason bees are the most well known — do a super job pollinating fruits, vegetables and flowers and don’t like to sting. They build nests in long narrow holes that they find already made in their environment. These holes could be hollow plant stems or holes drilled by woodpeckers and insects in wood. The bees use mud to build chambers in the holes, then lay an egg in each chamber. Before sealing up the chamber, they leave a dab of pollen and nectar in each for the larva to eat when it hatches.
Now that spring has finally arrived, we’re going to put out a simple bee hotel and see if we can, in fact, get bees to move into it. If they do, we’ll follow their progress and see what we can learn as we go. If they don’t we’ll go back to the drawing board and see if we can figure out where we went wrong.
First things first. We wanted to make our bee hotel stable, so we went with a very stable and simple design that should be easy enough for anyone to replicate. We used the round collection of canes we made in the winter and placed it in one side of a cinder block, then filled around with additional canes. We filled the second side, which took a lot more time without the head start. As you can see from the picture above, it’s hard to fill all the space because the canes jam on each other when you try to slide them in. You can buy cardboard tubes that are uniform, but we like to use supplies we find around the garage when we can.
We’ll put our bee hotel out tomorrow and document it in its southeast-facing location. Then we’ll wait…