Your garden is already home to insects galore, so why not give bees a proper place to rest their wings?
New Zealand has 28 species of native bees which help to pollinate our crops and gardens but who, unlike honey bees, are solitary. All the reduction in wild flowers and nesting sites has made it very difficult for bees to survive and many are indeed endangered.
Bee hotels are places for solitary bees to make their nests. These bees live alone, not in hives. They do not make honey. Solitary bees are much less likely to sting than honeybees because they aren’t defending a hive.
This little bee hotel is the perfect place for lots of different types of bees to nest. Females make tiny hives in a hollow reed or bamboo and leave an egg with some pollen and nectar for the larva when it hatches.
- Hang this bee hotel in a sunny, North facing spot.
- Don’t hide the entrance with vegetation.
- Mount securely so it does not sway in the wind.
You can tell bees are using your hotel when they make a mud “door” to cover the entrance hole. This means a female bee has laid an egg inside. After the bee hatches, it will eat a supply of pollen until it is ready to break through the mud and fly away.
At the end of summer, after bees have emerged from the hotel, clean out the holes. Everything should be empty and clean before new bees start laying their eggs. In autumn, store the hotel in a cool, dry, safe place such as a garden shed. Return them in early spring.