Native Bee Houseor

Native Bee Houseor

Native Bee House

Bee houses (also called bee hotels or bug hotels) are similar to bird houses, but instead of attracting birds, they attract native solitary bee species. Unlike honey bees, these solitary bees are extremely docile and up to three times more effective as pollinators. No, you won’t get any honey, but you will enjoy better flowers, thriving plants, and healthier vegetables in your garden! Some of the most common solitary bees are mason bees, leafcutter bees, and miner bees. Many of these native bees are already a part of the local ecosystem, but providing them with a perfect place to nest in your backyard can improve their lives and yours.


While a bee house that is 4 feet wide and 6 feet tall looks great, draws a lot of attention, and raises awareness of native bees, this size is much too ambitious and will likely become a burden to maintain. Like birdhouses, which ought to be cleaned out at the end of each year, bee houses need to be refreshed annually with new nesting materials. Bee hotel maintenance takes little effort overall, but consider the time that you can devote to managing the bees that move in.As you can imagine, those tubes and holes are going to get pretty mucked up by summer’s end. Here’s the problem: If you bought a cheap, but cute, little bee house like mine to see how this whole native bee thing works, those tubes and blocks are probably glued in so you can’t take them out to clean them. It’s fine to reuse a house two years in a row, but after that, those bargain houses need to be thrown away since they can’t be cleaned. My bee house was $14, so I’m fine with having made that initial investment in bee housing. Now that I’ve seen how bees really use it, I plan to ask my handy husband, Mike, to help me build a nicer bee box that we can clean nextyear.

Often so small as to go unnoticed, native bees of various sizes and colors are out there busily foraging and pollinating plants. But unlike honeybees, most native bees are more solitary than social. They don’t live in hives or work together as a group. Instead, they create nests of their own in all kinds of oddball places: mud holes, abandoned burrows, fallen trees and tunnel-like spaces such as hollow plant stems and holes made by woodpeckers and bugs. Sure, you might see a bunch of native bees nesting in the same small area, but they’re still going to keep mostly to themselves even though they’re neighbors. That I’ll-do-my-thing-you-do-yours style of communal living has inspired the creation of all sorts of native bee boxes; the cuter ones are dubbed houses or hotels. In an effort to help native bees, well-meaning people, including me, have gone out and bought (or built) a bee house of one kind or another. Once I nailed the house up, I did some research to better understand how to care for it and found out that having a nesting spot for native bees can be a great thing if you manage it properly. (Source: www.southwestjournal.com)


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