Posted: May 31, 2022

Participants of the Center for Pollinator Research’s recent Solitary Bee Hotel Workshop arrived with plenty of water and sunscreen on an unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon. As they gathered at the bee hotels in the Pollinator and Bird Garden, bees flew in and out with pollen collected from nearby flowers. “I have been to the pollinator garden many times and was always fascinated by the large solitary bee hotels installed there. When I saw the workshop come up, I jumped on the opportunity” said Jack Case.

90% of bee species are solitary, meaning they do not nest in a collective hive. Rather, a single female lays her eggs either in underground burrows or tree cavities. A bee hotel is made of hollow reeds or wood blocks with drilled holes, replicating natural cavities bees use for their offspring. Dr. Harland Patch explained to participants that cavity-nesting bees often lack appropriate nest sides in urban landscapes due to the removal of dead plants and trees. In this way, bee hotels support these important pollinators.

Using wood glue and a few simple tools, each participant made their own solitary bee hotel. Designed by the Center for Pollinator Research, the hotels made during this workshop are ideal for native nesting bees. For example, the walls are thick to help insulate the pupa in wintertime. Also, the roof extends past the walls of the hotel to shelter nests from rain. Many of the bee hotels sold in stores have incorrect dimensions or are made of materials that are not usable by bees.

Participants left the Arboretum equipped with the knowledge and supplies needed to manage a solitary bee hotel. “Getting to learn about how these bees live from professionals was an incredible opportunity,” said Case. “I am happy that I can now knowledgeably contribute in a small way to fostering pollinators in my backyard.” When asked where he put his bee hotel, participant David Snowe shared, “My bee hotel is mounted in our raspberry and blackberry arbor, and next to some native plants that attract bees and hummingbirds”.

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