Once I’d done my research and understood where to put it, my bee hotel was an absolute revelation this spring. I was mesmerised as female bees came back and forth building their nests right in front of my nose. Have a look at this video...
A bee house is simply a set of tubes (2-10mm diameter), closed off at one end – perfect for solitary bees to build their nests in.
You can buy one or make one – either way do a bit of research first to make sure you’re getting the best specifications for happy bees
Solitary bees don’t live in colonies (unlike their more well-known cousins - honey bees and bumble bees).
Did you know that there about 270 species of bee in the UK and 90% are solitary bees?
The Red Mason Bee is the most likely user of your bee house. Other mason bees and leafcutter bees may also use it.
Female bees use the tubes to lay their eggs. They create a series of chambers for their eggs, inside the tubes – each chamber sealed off with a little wall of mud or leaves that they skilfully build.
The bee eggs become larvae and then pupae inside the chambers during the summer, then hibernate through winter, until it’s finally time to emerge next spring. And so it all begins again!
Solitary bees are fantastic pollinators, so we really need them in our gardens to grow our food and keep our flowers blooming.
In just a couple of weeks this May, all the holes you can see that have mud walls at the entrance were filled with nests by female red mason bees.
Following advice online, we put the house on a south-facing wall, about 1.5m from the ground. This has been fantastic for watching the bees at work.
After the young bees have emerged next spring we will clean out the tubes ready for the next batch.