What is this…a hotel for bees?!

Why, yes…yes it is.  Among the things that I get irrationally excited about, we can now include: bee hotels.  I lost two hours yesterday photographing bees at this place.  I’ll post more shots tomorrow.  Today, I just wanted to introduce you to the idea of a bee hotel!

The vast majority of bee species (of which there are more than 20,000 worldwide) are solitary (or at least not eusocial…see my post on communal bees), which means they don’t form hives as honeybees do.  30% of bees nest in cavities like holes in dead wood and hollowed out reeds and stems.  These bees include many representatives from the Megachilidae (mason, resin, and leafcutter bees).

A solitary bee nest is a series of brood chambers, each of which contains one egg and one ball of pollen for the developing larvae to eat.  These chambers are sealed off from one another in a variety of ways.

Some bees use grasses

Some bees use grasses

Some use resins

Some use resins

Some use leaves  (I think this is a leaf mash up)

Some use leaves (I think this is a leaf mash up)

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Some, like the the European wool carder bee, use fuzz from plants.

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Bee hotels include a variety of nesting options. These bamboo rods are ideal because they come in a variety of sizes and are closed on one end. (Solitary bees don’t like to nest in holes that are open on both ends.)

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Female solitary bees will lay female eggs first, at the back of the chamber, and then male eggs last, toward the front. This ensures that the male eggs emerge in time to mate, and that the female eggs are protected. If you want to encourage bees to nest in your hotel, make these holes at least 7.5-13 cm (3-5 inches) deep and 6 mm (1/4 inch) or less in diameter.

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In addition to bamboo, it is common to provide wood with various sized holes drilled into it. This one is occupied!

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Females will sometimes sit at the entrance to their nest to protect it.

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“Buzzzzz off!”

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Bees will also sometimes nest in the gap between the bark and the wood.

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10 thoughts on “What is this…a hotel for bees?!

  1. I heart solitary bees! I’ll try to remember to post some pics of my mason bee house & ADORABLE mason bees (that would be Osmia Californica & Osmia Lignaria) coming out of their cocoons from last year. alas, I didn’t have any cocoons to harvest. 😦

    ps. “fuzz from plants” ??

  2. Pingback: Denizens of the Bee Hotel | standingoutinmyfield

  3. Pingback: Bee Hotels don’t just attract bees | standingoutinmyfield

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