First, the most important question of all: what is a wild bee hotel? Wild bee hotels (sometimes called bee homes, bee houses, or insect hotels) are structures in which solitary bees can nest and lay their eggs.
Wild bees are undomesticated bee species that often live alone rather than in colonies. They nest in the ground or in cavities like hollow logs or plant stems – or the hollow reeds used in bee hotels!
THE ANATOMY OF AN ALVÉOLE BEEHOME
a) Removable nesting tubes
b) Observation drawers
c) Planter box for bee-friendly flowers
FAQ #1: WILL HAVING A WILD BEE HOTEL INCREASE MY CHANCES OF GETTING STUNG?
No, installing a wild bee hotel on your property will not increase your chances of getting stung. Bee hotels are only used by solitary wild bees – not the more aggressive pollinators like yellowjackets or hornets. Wild bees are some of the most docile pollinators there are. They do not defend their nests and rarely, if ever, sting.
FAQ #2: WHAT TYPES OF BEES USE WILD BEE HOTELS?
The native bee species that nest in your bee hotel will vary based on your location. The most common bees to find nesting in bee hotels are mason bees and leafcutter bees.
FAQ #3: WHERE SHOULD I INSTALL A WILD BEE HOTEL?
It is best to install your wild bee hotel in a sunny spot, protected from high winds, and surrounded by pollinator-friendly wildflowers. It’s also recommended to install your bee hotel as close to ground level as possible.
Solitary wild bees travel a maximum distance of 550 yards (500 meters) from their nesting site to forage for pollen and nectar. This is a much shorter distance than honey bees, who will travel around 2 miles (3 km) from their hive to forage. So food needs to be within easy flying distance of their nest.
FAQ #4: DO WILD BEE HOTELS NEED TO BE CLEANED OUT EACH SEASON?
Yes, the nesting tubes in wild bee hotels must be cleaned out each season. Not changing the tubes each year can ultimately do more harm than good to the wild bee population. Swapping in clean tubes ensures the bee hotel doesn’t harbor parasites or bacteria.Helping the next generation of wild bees through the winter
Along with rotating in clean nesting tubes, your Alvéole beekeeper will collect any mason bee cocoons at the end of the beekeeping season. The cocoons are cleaned of any parasites and stored in a safe place until spring. This significantly increases their chance of survival.
FAQ #5: WHAT CAN I DO TO ATTRACT MORE BEES TO MY WILD BEE HOTEL?
Flowers are key to attracting more wild bees to your bee hotel! Providing them with pollen and nectar rich flowers will ensure they don’t need to travel far for food.
Research which flowers are native to your area. Native bees prefer native flowers. Check out these regional planting guides from Pollinator Partnership (Canadian guides) and The Xerces Society (US guides).
Aim to always have something in bloom. Research bloom times for different flowers or try “succession planting”. Succession planting is a method of planting flowers multiple times throughout the growing season to encourage continuous blooms.