ABOUT BEE HOTELS
What is a Bee Hotel?
Our bee hotels are made from untreated (so as not drive the bees away with toxic fumes) pine with multiple, different sized holes drilled into one face. The size of the holes have been informed through research and experimentation and each size is perfectly suited to specific species of solitary bees. The holes mimic the natural holes the solitary bees would find in nature. Usually these holes are made by other insects in dead wood, as most solitary bees (carpenter bees are an exception) cannot create their own holes. The holes offer a safe place for solitary bees to rest and breed.
Check out this video explaining bee hotels.
- The female Solitary bee will select a hole in the Bee Hotel. She prefers one that is clean, smooth, the correct size and depth. This hole will become her breeding nest.
- From the nest she will fly backwards and forwards into your garden, collecting pollen and nectar. The pollen and nectar will be mixed into a paste and placed into the rear of the hole – her “pantry”.
- Depending on her species, she will lay eggs next to or on the pollen mixture. This will be the young bee's food supply as they grow to maturity inside the nest.
- Once she has filled up the 'pantry' and completed laying eggs, she will seal the entrance of the hole to protect her eggs against predators (see FAQs). Different materials will be used to seal the nest depending on the species. These materials include mud, saliva, leaves, petals, wood chips to name a few.
- She will then leave her nest and the young will mature on their own, safely in their nest, feeding from the 'pantry'. Once they reach maturity the new bees eat their way through the sealed door and take their first flight into this beautiful world.
- The biggest challenge is deciding where to hang your hotel. Once decided it will take 10 minutes to hang it, and then the wait for your first tenant begins.
Experience has shown us that it takes roughly two weeks for the first tenant to move in. Once this happens the hotel becomes prime real estate attracting other bees continuously (we assume the original tenant releases some chemical signal/pheromone).
- The winter months are very quiet as breeding does not take place. During the winter phase a large proportion of the nests will be sealed. Inside these nests will be young bees biding their time to emerge in the warmer spring.
The ideal spot for your hotel
- An early morning sunspot – solitary bees are cold blooded and need to warm up before they can get out of bed and start their day.
- Out of noon day direct sun– their eggs will overheat.
- A secure location – they will expend too much energy trying to find their hole if the hotel is waving about in the wind, or will feel unsafe if it is continuously knocked about.
- Somewhere dry– as the Bee Hotel is untreated wood it will last longer if kept out of direct rainfall, it will prevent fungus growth and the wood rotting.
- Any height- the best height is one where you or the children can view easily. From experience, solitary bees are not bothered by human presence and they will usually continue about their business, nor are they of any threat to humans. It is therefore a wonderful opportunity to watch who is moving in, moving out and visiting.
Examples of places to hang your hotel
- Veranda \ Patio \ Stoep
- On a wall under the eaves of your house – front or back door are great options
- On a window sill
- On a post in your boma/gazebo