Free shipping! This is our contribution to help to save the bees.
Or collect two pre-ordered bee hotels from our factory and receive a complimentary third one on the house! (For a limited time only
🐝 Did you know?
Most South Africans are unaware that there are over 1.000 known species of bees in our country (and about 20.000 species worldwide).
In South Africa, the bee abundance and diversity is dwindling, hence the need for us to lend a helping hand.
It is a well-known fact that bee pollination is essential for fruit, vegetable and seed development. Without bees, the agricultural industry would collapse, and the human race would be in serious trouble.
Only a very few species of bees live in colonies and make honey; they are the well-known honey bees and the Mopani bees. The vast majority of bees in our country are called ‘solitary bees’ (Hymenoptera) because they make individual nest cells for their larvae. Many solitary bees are tiny, and you may not have realised they are bees. Solitary bees are far more efficient pollinators than honey bees.
Solitary bees are harmless and not aggressive. They are either stingless or very unlikely to sting, making them safe around children and pets.
Solitary bees usually create nests in hollow reeds, twigs or holes in wood. GardenStuff’s bee hotels provide these desperately needed nesting hollows for them.
🐝 What is a Bee Hotel?
It is a human-made object that offers Solitary bees a home in which they can rest and breed in safety. A bee hotel will not attract honey bees. Honey bees require different nesting structures.
A bee hotel is a bee’s permanent home for eleven months of its short life as it develops from an egg through a larvae stage, then as a dormant pupa, and finally emerges as an adult.
To enjoy the hotel and all of the activity, hang it at eye level or lower if the children would like to get involved. Find a dry spot that is in dappled sunlight, a bright, shaded area or in an area that only receives early morning sunlight (not direct sunlight as that will be too hot). Hang it where you can see it and enjoy it. Take pride in knowing that you are making a valuable contribution to the protection and conservation of our bees.
🐝 What is happening inside the Bee Hotel?
Most of the pollen and nectar that bees gather visiting flowers in the gardens nearby the bee hotel is to feed their larvae. This is the main feeding stage of developing bees as they do not grow larger once they emerge from the pupa. Adult bees ingest only small quantities as food.
One can take a close peep at the tunnels to see what's going on inside. Don’t worry, Solitary bees will not come out and attack.
🐝 Where to put your Bee Hotel?
The bee house must be positioned out of permanent shade and out of continuous sun. Solitary bees are cold-blooded and rely on the sun’s heat to warm them up in the morning. If you site your bee hotel in the shade or hidden behind vegetation, it is unlikely to be used.
A bee house must be firmly fixed so that it does not swing or sway in the wind, so you should not hang it from a branch. If possible, find a spot that has some protection from the rain. Persistent winter wet, not cold is their enemy.
🐝 Will any Bee Hotel do?
In the light of public concern about sudden bee declines as reported in the media, many horticultural suppliers are now offering commercially made wooden bee houses (also called condos, or bee traps). Sadly many of them are inadequate for several possible reasons:
- Many bee hotels are ornamental rather than functional, designed to appeal to human aesthetics more than being beneficial to solitary bees
- They offer insufficient protection from wet weather
- The holes are too large because they are made abroad to cater to species that do not live here
- Tunnels have splinters inside. Bees will avoid those to prevent damage to their wings
- Tubes have no solid back wall and are only open-ended wind tunnels
- They contain glass or plastic tubes which cause condensation and fungus moulds
- Some bee houses are too large. Many bee species will not live near each other. It is better to spread some smaller bee houses around the garden instead of having one big house. Bee hotels with dozens of chambers should be avoided as parasitic insect and mites easily detect more significant numbers of solitary bees living in close proximity.
- Some bee hotels are made of plywood, chipboard, particleboard, plastic or cardboard. Those are not suitable.
- Many bee houses are made to hang from a branch or hook and cannot be firmly fixed. Bees do not like swinging nests.
I am grateful to the apiculturists Marc Carlton and Michael Hickman for information that we have used for this article.