Solitary bee nests and suitability for bees

March 18, 2016

in Gardening For Wildlife, Red mason solitary bees, Solitary Bee Observation Box

Bamboo canes and nesting blocks for solitary bees

In the right hands, bamboo canes have been successfully used for years to attract solitary bees to nest inside. The key words here are ‘in the right hands’. People who successfully use them know what bees need, how to adapt the canes for the bee’s requirements, how to safely open the canes and manage the contents. This can take time and experience.

Go to any garden centre or pet store and look along the wildlife section. You will be amazed as to what is on offer for our wild bees.

Non suitable materials inside solitary bee nest boxes

Straw, pine cones, wood fibres, dried wood wool, hay, wood chips and bark are great habitats for insects, e.g. earwigs which will predate on solitary bee eggs and eat pollen. Such materials have no place in a box made to encourage solitary bees.  Non bee insects or bug boxes yes, solitary bee nest boxes? Never!


Bamboo tubes useless for solitary bees in this conditionEntrances blocked by sharp transverse fibres that will damage bee wings

Some nodes completely blocking entrance

Some canes shortened by nodes

Some are complete wind tunnels. Bees would not waste time sealing the ends of these

Short length of usable ones would encourage more males, fewer females

Small node entrance, with vast expanse of bamboo cane on other side, useless.


Mersey tunnel bamboo tubes for solitary bees!


Windy Mersey Tunnel nesting canes!

Bee wings and a bee blocking entrances

How many are sealed at the rear end?

How many are useful to solitary bees?

Do you really like the plastic bumblebees?

What solitary bee species did they have in mind?



Unclean bamboo tubes useless for solitary bees. Nurturing nature


A few canes MAY be usable

Short length of usable ones would encourage more males,fewer females

Unclean canes




Solitary bee and earwig house!


Transverse sharp wood fibres to some entrances

How clean are the insides tunnels?

Great earwig resting place which eats pollen and any bee eggs!

Short length of usable ones would encourage more males,fewer females




Unclean rough bamboo canes Nurturing nature


Easy place for a spiders to make a web

How do bees get inside?

Many similarities to above examples




Solitary bee nest entrance How does it get inside? Nurturing Nature


How does a bee get inside?







Solitary bee nesting block


Wooden nest block as supplied by Nurturing Nature

Notice how smooth and clean this nesting block is?

This will encourage best to nest

The length encourages more females eggs to be laid

Suitable for solitary bees!


I can absolutely recommend this web site if you wish to make your own nest boxes, with detailed instructions for making your own solitary bee nest box. How to make a bee hotel. a wealth of interesting and useful information by Marc Carlton.

For a more detailed account with videos see: Is your bee hotel a nursery for disease and pests?

You may also find this paper interesting: ‘Bee Hotels’ as Tools For Native Pollinator Conservation. A Premature Verdict?

For info and link to buy an excellent book Field Guide to the Bees of Great Britain and Ireland by Steven Falk

An extremely useful resource supports this book by a special web site feature within Steve Falk’s Flickr web site which furnishes extra photos and other useful resources to assist with identification.

For more information about solitary bees visit BWARS

Interested in Citizen Science and pollinators? The Buzz Club 

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