🐝 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, bee abundance and diversity are dwindling, hence the need for us to lend a helping hand.
It is well-known 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 few bees live in colonies and make honey; they are the well-known honey bees and the Mopani bees. Most bees in our country are called ‘solitary bees’ (Hymenoptera) because they make individual nest cells for their larvae. Many solitary bees are tiny; 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 to rest and breed safely. A bee hotel will not attract honey bees as they 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 activities, hang it at eye level or lower if the children want to get involved. Find a dry spot in dappled sunlight, a bright, shaded area, or 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 protecting and conserving our bees.
🐝 What is happening inside the Bee Hotel?
Most of the pollen and nectar that bees gather 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 of food.
One can closely peep at the tunnels to see what’s happening inside. Don’t worry, Solitary bees will not come out and attack.
🐝 Where to put your Bee Hotel?
The bee house must be out of the permanent shade and the continuous sun. Solitary bees are cold-blooded and rely on the morning sun’s heat to warm them up. It is unlikely to be used if you place your bee hotel in the shade or hidden behind the vegetation.
A bee house must be firmly fixed to 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. Endless winter wet, not cold, is their enemy.
🐝 Will any Bee Hotel do?
In light of public concern about sudden bee declines, as reported in the media, many horticultural suppliers now offer 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, and many bee species will not live near each other. It is better to spread some smaller bee houses around the garden than to have one big house.
- 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.
We are grateful to the apiculturists Marc Carlton and Michael Hickman for the information we used for this article.
- BEE HOTEL
Product Code: BEE
Dimensions: 43 cm (h) x 17 cm (w) x 10,5 cm (d)
Includes nails to attach to a tree or wall.
- BEE GARDEN
Product Code: SLT-XL and SLT-M
Slots together in seconds, no tools required
Soil Volume: 84 litre
Dimensions: 115 cm (l) x 55 cm (w) x 23 cm (h)
- BEE FLOWER SEED MIX
Kirchhoff’s Heir Loom ‘Colour Patch’
Winter Dwarf or Summer Splendour (seasonal)
- VOLCANIC ROCK DUST
Product Code: VRD
72+ Minerals and Trace Elements for healthy and productive soil
100 g Sachet
- WATER BOWL
Stainless Steel Jar with 50 Glass Marbles (to prevent common drowning)