Bee hotel
Bee hotels in the garden

Last update: 3 July 2020
OBSERVATION:
2019-IV-242017-VI-182016-VI-08


UPDATE: New bee hotel sections and blocks add, article structure rewritten

n 2016 I’ve installed a number of self-made bee hotels and one commercially obtained (a gift) in the garden.

Choose the order on the submenu Bee hotel to view the different visitors

The main section consists of a sunny wall facing south. It is setup and divided in sections based on heights.

All bee hotels in sections I – III have the nest entrances facing south.

Bee hotels in the garden divided over sections I – III

 

SECTION I

Bee hotel section 3
Block 1
Height33-80 cm
MaterialStem, wood unknown
Drill-holesmixed, 3 – 8 mm, perpendicular

Block 1 is a stem mounted vertically from the ground against the wall. It was setup in 2014 and is the oldest block. It is still being used by:

Bees (Apoidae)

  • Ridge-saddled carpenter bee (Heriades troncorum, Megachillidae)
  • Red mason bee (Osmia bicornis, Megachillidae)

 

SECTION II

Block 2
Height110 – 185 cm
Material– large and small stems of birch
– bamboo
– bricks
– stems of Eupatorium cannabinum
Drill-holesmixed, 2,5mm – 10 mm
Built2014, wood replaced in 2016

This block is, together with block 6, the most popular and is overloaded with Ridge-saddled carpenter bee (Heriades truncorum) and Red mason bee (Osmia bicornis).
The four bricks are not popular and only a couple of holes have been used up till now.
The stems are used every year.

User of this block are:

Bees (Apoidae)

  • Common yellow face bee (Hylaeus communis, Colletidae)
  • Colletes davisanus, Colletidae
  • Chelestoma rapunculi
  • Ridge-saddled carpenter bee (Heriades troncorum, Megachillidae)
  • Red amson bee (Osmia bicornis, Megachillidae)
  • European orchard bee (Osmia cornuta, Megachillidae)

Wasps (Hymenoptera)

  • Trypoxylon figulus (Crabronidae)
Block 4
Height (centre)170 cm
Materialstem Elm
Drill-holesmixed, 2,5 – 8 mm
Built2015

This is an older block that is used intensively by:

Bees (Apoidae)

  • Ridge-saddled carpenter bee (Heriades troncorum, Megachillidae)
  • Patchwork leafcutter bee (Megachile centuncularis, Megachillidae)
  • Willughby’s Leaf-cutter Bee (Megachile willughbiella, Megachillidae)
  • Red mason bee (Osmia bicornis, Megachillidae)
  • European orchard bee (Osmia cornuta, Megachillidae)

Wasps (Hymenoptera)

  • Trypoxylon figulus (Crabronidae)
  • Ancistrocerus (Vespidae)
Block 5
Height (centre)170 cm
Materialtrunk slice, elm
Drill-holesmixed, 2,5 – 8 mm
Built2019

This block is intensively used by:

Bees (Apoidae)

  • Gewone maskerbij (Hylaeus communis, Colletidae)
  • Ridge-saddled carpenter bee (Heriades troncorum, Megachillidae)
  • Patchwork leafcutter bee (Megachile centuncularis, Megachillidae)
  • Brown-footed leafcutter bee (Megachile versicolor)
  • Willughby’s Leaf-cutter Bee (Megachile willughbiella, Megachillidae)
  • Red mason bee (Osmia bicornis, Megachillidae)
  • European orchard bee (Osmia cornuta, Megachillidae)

Wasps (Hymenoptera)

  • Trypoxylon figulus (Crabronidae)
Block 6
Height80 – 170 cm
Material– small stems of plane and birch
– bamboo stems (mixed diameters)
Drill-holes2,5 – 6, some holes of 8 mm
Built2018

This block is added in 2018 and is intensively used by:

Bees (Apoidae)

  • Chelestoma rapunculi
  • Ridge-saddled carpenter bee (Heriades troncorum, Megachillidae)
  • Red mason bee (Osmia bicornis, Megachillidae)

Wasps (Hymenoptera)

  • Nitela borealis (Crabronidae)
  • Trypoxylon figulus (Crabronidae)
Block 8
Height (centre)130 cm
Materialtrunk slice, unknown wood
Drill-holes2,5 – 8 mm
Built2020

This section has been added in 2020 and is slowly being taken in use:

Bees (Apoidae)

  • Ridge-saddled carpenter bee (Heriades troncorum, Megachillidae)
  • Willughby’s Leaf-cutter Bee (Megachile willughbiella, Megachillidae)

Wasps (Hymenoptera)

  • Passaloecus eremita (Crabronidae)
  • Trypoxylon figulus (Crabronidae)
  • Ancistrocerus nigricornis (Vespidae)
Block 10
Height70 – 150 cm
Material– bamboo stems
– small stems of unknown wood (under construction)
Drill-holesmixed, 2,5 – 8 mm
Built2020

This block has been added beginning of 2020 and is currently used sparingly:

Bees (Apoidae)

  • Chelestoma rapunculi

Wasps (Hymenoptera)

  • Trypoxylon figulus (Crabronidae)

 

SECTION III

Block 3
Height (centre)200 cm
Materialtrunk slice, elm
Drill-holes2,5 – 8 mm
Built2015

An older block used by:

Bees (Apoidae)

  • Common yellow face bee (Hylaeus communis, Colletidae)
  • Ridge-saddled carpenter bee (Heriades troncorum, Megachillidae)
  • Patchwork leafcutter bee (Megachile centuncularis, Megachillidae)
  • Willughby’s Leaf-cutter Bee (Megachile willughbiella, Megachillidae)

Wasps (Hymenoptera)

Block 7
Height (centre)200 cm
Materialtrunk slice, lime
Drill-holes8 – 10 mm, with smaller holes
Built2019

This block is not used. The wood was not nice to drill in and resulted in rough ‘hairy’ walls. I tried to compensate by making the holes bigger and hanging it higher so it may become attractive for Megachile bees that seem to prefer heights.

Bees (Apoidae)

Wasps (Hymenoptera)



SECTION IV

Commercial bee hotel
Block 11
Orientationeast
Height (centre)140 cm
Materialtrunk slice, lime
Drill-holes3, 4, 5, 6 mm
Built2015

The commercial bee hotel is apparently not usefull for insects as it is rarely visited. It has different sections intended for different insects like butterflies, bees, beetles etc, but is mainly used by spiders.
The bamboo stems are open on both sides rendering them useless, however in 2020 I noticed three of them filled up. Probably by red mason bee as it is the only large bee that I have seen showing some interest.
In 2020 the garden is visited by many Chelestoma rapunculi bees and they have now taken a specific compartment, filled with horizontal reeds, into use.

Bees (Apoidae)

  • Chelestoma rapunculi
  • Red mason bee (Osmia bicornis, Megachillidae)

Wasps (Hymenoptera)



SECTION V

New bee hotel section 5
Block 11
Orientationnorth
Height (centre)140 cm
Materialtrunk slice, lime
Drill-holes3, 4, 5, 6 mm
Built2020

This is a small block as an experiment. Recently I’ve read [1] that certain wasps from the genera Symmorphus and Ancistrocerus possibly prefer the nest entrance oriented to the north or west. Also, specific per species, they prefer drill-holes diameters of 3, 4, 5 or 6 mm, and the nest at a height of 1 to 2 meters.

This block has been built specifically for these groups using those parameters.


SECTION VI

New bee hotel section 6
Block 12
Orientationwest
Height (centre)150 cm
Materialtrunk slice, lime
Drill-holes3, 4, 5, 6 mm
Built2020

This section is also made specifically for  Symmorphus and Ancistrocerus, see section V what this means.

MAINTENANCE

It is a good practice to built bee hotels in compartments so it is easy to replace part once they are worn.
Block 2 is not a smart built as every thing is stacked and pressed into the frame which makes it very hard to replace items. Nowadays I prefer to make small frames, according to what will be in it, that can be filled, like blocks 6 and 10. In block 10 I also applied separators between the sections within the block.
Using complete truck slices is handy and easy to replace, but they tend to crack in the sunlight.

Weathering is the main reason to replace a block, the nests do not need cleaning as the bees clean them themselves.

RAW MATERIALS

Drilling wood should leave clean smooth walls, so one should use sharp drills when drilling. But also the type of wood seems a factor. It do not recognize wood so I make some sample drilling. If the sawdust is small and granular it is good, but sometimes it is woolly with long fibres. This is not good and I’m not sure if it is the type of wood or the state of the wood, or both. Even when the wood looks good and hard it may occur, maybe it is because it is partly deteriorated.

I’ve used bricks in block 2, but to this date two holes have been used. Bees and wasps alike do not show a lot of interest.


References

1 BUDRIENE, Anna. Reproductive ecology and behaviour of predatory wasps (Hymenoptera: Eumeninae). Doctor al thesis. Vilnius, 2004.

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