Beware! Is your ‘bee hotel’ a nursery for disease and pests? – video

April 4, 2015

in A selection of my garden wildlife videos, Gardening For Wildlife, Red mason solitary bees, Solitary Bee Observation Box

Beware! Is your ‘bee hotel’ a nursery for disease and pests?

Or put another way, why does n’t my bee hotel work and increase my wild bees? I wish, from my experience as a researcher, educator, designer, user and producer of bee boxes, to shed light on the controversy over the effectiveness or otherwise of bee hotels. The controversy is to do with the design and construction of bee hotels that, it can be argued, have a  significant influence on the survival outcomes for bees. Researchers have just published what I have found myself, that bee hotels are not what they appear!

From a customer AM, who bought a bee hotel from another supplier;

‘Did what you said had a look at the bees and sadly they were all dead having been eaten by tiny grubs, how can I be sure this doesn’t happen again. I am really upset., as I looked after them all winter keeping under a porch out of all weathers’.

In their paper ‘Bee Hotels’ as Tools For Native Pollinator Conservation: A Premature Verdict? they found ” at their worst, bee hotels may act as a population sink for bees through facilitating the increase of parasites, predators….and diseases”

You could call me biased as I build and sell award winning bumblebee and solitary bee boxes but nevertheless from both my experiences over the years and that of other researchers there is substantial evidence that different bee hotels are more effective than others. Some designs just don’t work, have harmful or minimal outputs for bees in terms of survival from predators, disease and environmental factors.

Successful or otherwise?

To me a success is not if the solitary bees use the nest box. Highly like some will. It is a success if a new generation of solitary bees emerges from it the following year and better still in more numbers.

Red mason male feeding

Management and design is key

I believe the key considerations when considering the effectiveness of bee hotels is the ease of management along with how it is designed. Annual and informed management is essential to improve the positive outcomes for bees. Just as you manage the countryside and urban green spaces and in particular nature reserves to improve the outcomes for birds, mammals and plants there is a need to manage insects, including bees for a positive outcome. Some of us wish to do the same with our gardens. Unmanaged bee hotels of certain designs and materials may have their place but the evidence is increasing that the positive outcomes for bees can be minimal or even negative. I invite you to consider my discussion below to enlighten you about the controversy over bee hotels and make up your own mind.

This is my two penneth!!

I have made some videos and given a few explanations as to my experiences as why many bee hotels can actually kill bees in my garden. I show several other methods for attracting wild bees/wasps and thoughts you may wish to consider before placing them out. I regard myself as a wild bee keeper, especially red mason and leaf cutter bees and as such, like a honey bee keeper, I want to manage my garden bees and protect them from pests, predators and the like. A few species of solitary wasps have used my nest boxes. Different pests I have come across, require different control measures, which can also depend upon the nest material in use. My advice would be, if you can’t open it to clean it, don’t buy it! With home made/collected materials at the very least they should be changed annually.

Bee hotels?

A slick marketing name for people to remember! There is a huge choice of designs, materials etc., out there nowadays, some look really good and pleasing to the eye! Firstly they are not bee hotels! Other insects may use them as an ‘insect hotel’ for temporary resting, shelter or feeding places. The solitary bees, e.g. red mason bees, live as cocoons inside the cavities from late spring to the next spring. Other bees do likewise from summer to summer as do some solitary wasps. Hardly a hotel, more a bee home!

What will use them?

Its not like a bird nest box, when you can say in the main, which birds will use it. Other than a few bees and solitary wasps that I do know, which other bees or solitary wasps will use them I have no idea. It is a question most people in the UK cannot answer. Other than a book about solitary wasps Prof. Sarah Corbet, there a very few solitary bee/wasps academics here and finding a book on the subject is frustrating! Though I can fully appreciate the time, effort and expertise needed to write one! I believe one is being written……and BWARS is a useful site if you have the patience to try to find the wasps/bees inside your nest box and then match them with the web site photos! Then you see one that looks like it to discover there’s another that looks exactly the same!! At least its a start!

Is your ‘bee hotel’ a nursery for disease and pests?

There may well be many unwelcome guests, all after the rich pollen/nectar mix or even the bee egg, larvae or cocoons themselves.

Pollen Mites (Chaetodactylus spp.)

Pollen mite claws Nurturing Nature

Pollen mites attach themselves to bees using huge claws, (above) drop off on flowers, feed up, mate and hitch a return lift courtesy of another bee. Once inside the safe environment of a red mason bee’s cell, they breed and can soon become many thousands inside one cell, outcompeting the bee larvae for food, leading to its death or reduce the size of the bee. Smaller female bees have reduced fecundity. For the bee larvae, it is a race against time.  According to some researchers, they may also eat the egg before it hatches and even certain later stages of larval development.

new film with new research

To cater for environmental factors within the cell, probably food scarcity or decreasing humidity, they have developed a survival strategy. Some become migratory mites and migrate as described, waiting till spring when the bee leaves its cell or as it passes through a mite infested cell, often found in huge numbers that it can affect the flight of the bee.

Encysted pollen mite bidding their time inside a Red Mason bee nest

The above mites probably moved out of the natal cell as there is evidence of Cacoxenus indagator frass which means they may have ate most of the pollen which forced them to leave and encyst

 

The remaining mites, as above, encyst and are non migratory. They remain in situ inside your solitary bee nest until some environmental cue triggers their activity. Its a survival strategy that works as they can remain dormant during unfavourable conditions for several years. Your bee nest may well now contain many 1000’s. These methods enable them to maintain their normal host relationship and disperse to gain new hosts.

Nest to nest dispersal

Other than those that hitch a lift (phoresy) on a bee, mites will also disperse within solitary bee nests by walking to nearby nest entrance holes, walking from nest to nest through splits, cracks, holes, gaps, and parasitic wasp emergence holes, all of which can be found in wood, straws, canes, reeds, paper/cardboard tubes.

Wasps and other pests

In my garden, parasitoid wasps, such as Monodontomerus wasps can devastate red mason cocoons, likewise Pteromalus wasps with leaf cutter bees. Artifically large numbers of solitary bees will produce a huge amount of frass. Parasitoid wasps in particular seek out and can recognise their hosts frass, which gives off chemical cues. Manage these to stop them eating your bees! For me, that’s essential.

Other pests will seek out pollen stores/larvae/cocoons all concentrated in one easy to find location. Many of these pests may otherwise be scarce in wild populations.

Wasps such as ruby tailed, Sapyga quinquepunctata and the cuckoo bee Coelioxys spp. are minor cleptoparasitic pests in comparison to the parasitoid wasps, as is the Houdini fly, Cacoxenus indagator. in my garden currently. This may change as these things do in nature!

Chalkbrood

A fungal disease caused by Ascosphaera spp. (not the honey bee species) infects the bee larvae and kills them. It is scarce in wild populations. Under managed and high densities of bee populations, it has the ability to rapidly spread. Its spores have been found to live for many years. The spread of this disease has to be prevented. Your old solitary bee nest may be a source.

If a diseased bee dies inside its cocoon, the bee further inside the cavity will have to chew through its body as they exit. If they don’t they will die inside. The spores,fungus, disease can be picked up by all exiting bees in that cavity. This may not kill the bees themselves, but certainly the disease will spread to flowers they visit and passed onto other bees visiting them. Their own offspring may themselves be infected as spores drop from the adult bee to infect the pollen that is consumed by the larvae. They will die.

Transparent tubes

 

Solitary bee nest tubes with mould Nurturing Nature

Moisture cannot wick away causing fungal infection of the pollen and the bee larvae die. Raw states “Glass tubes have been found undesirable, because condensation on the inside of the tube killed the occupants”

The tubes are a real pain to clean for adults and children. They made management of the bees very difficult. I want to observe bees and their parasites. I want to increase bee numbers, not kill them!

Cheap, cheerful but a false logic?

Well intentioned but woefully inadequate

Spits & cracks in bee hotels allow pests to enter-Nurturing Nature

Drilled wooden blocks, a simple to make DIY attempt, is now old technology and again allows for the increase of pests and diseases inside each hole.  Management of them is impossible. 

How many pests are inside this bee hotel?

Upon first impressions the above drilled log appears to be a great success with high occupancy. It probably is, for pests!! The splits make it very easy for pests to migrate from one cell to the next and easy for solitary wasps to parasitise the cocoons. Inserting paper rolls inside is fiddly and any gaps can allow wasps to enter, but can help with pollen mites. They have to be a tight fit and be able to be pulled out. They are liable to get wet in the rain without adequate shelter. It may be a good idea to replace wooden blocks, logs, annually to help prevent pest/disease build up.

 

Wide windy tunnels - Nurturing Nature

Wide windy opened ended tunnels are not liked by solitary bees!

Not a very bee friendly bamboo bee hotel! Nurturing Nature

Bamboo tubes are tough, waterproof, cheap and cheerful and should be changed annualy. They are easily replaced and with experience, time spent cutting, sorting re lengths, width etc., can be made to work very well and allows for management of bee cocoons. Inserting paper rolls inside is fiddly and any gaps can allow wasps to enter, bamboo diameters can be variable. Many shop bought ones have nodes halfway down making them smaller or even blocked by a node at the entrance!  Many of these are simply too wide and again act like wind tunnels. The brittle sharp edges have not been clean cut and are not very friendly to bee wings! Any cracks or splits would be exploited by parasitic wasps.

Opening bamboo canes to check for bee cocoons

I was asked to advise about red mason bees and offered to examine their old bamboo bee nest, which had been put up for years to encourage  red mason bees to use in their showcase orchard, as part of a well known and beautiful garden in the North West. It had not been managed. It may have been put out for the bees but had it been used and what was the result?

Inspecting bamboo canes for bee cocoons Nurturing Nature

The canes were split open to allow us to see what was inside and more importantly, how many red mason bees cocoons there were to pollinate the apples.

Bee cocoons from an old bamboo bee nest box Nurturing Nature

Out of all those canes we were left with just a few cocoons, which MAY have been viable ones! Bamboo canes need replacing annually.

Mono exit holes in canes

Even phragmites canes can be attacked by Monodontomerus wasps…..and allow pollen mites to enter

Reed, plant stems, cardboard tubes and straws

High hole densities allows pest, diseases to spread _ Nurturing Nature

High holed densities may favour the spread of diseases, pests, mites. The different shapes, lengths, positions make it easier for solitary bees/wasps to find their own actual nest. Would need replacing annually. Can be very successful. In the distant past  I used hogweed stems, but got no takers. So I don’t bother now!

Canes destroyed by birds

Reed and plant stems can be very effective for solitary bees and wasps, but open to attack by Monodontomerus wasps and without protection, birds and mice. Wood makes an excellent container to house bamboo, reeds, etc. Metal is not good idea. You may find the bees are overheated, the nectar may dry up and worst the bees are cooked! Unless of course you put a shelter roof over it or remove it before it gets too hot.

Cardboard tubes

They have to be thick enough to stop monodontomerus wasps ovispositing through them and having a sealed back end is required. They need to be protected from the rain and are best kept inside a waterproof container with an overhanging roof, or the protruding end gets wet. They work admirably but can start to become expensive. Some people put a paper liner inside to help make cleaning them easier. I don’t use these anymore.

Grooved boards as bee nests

old and new grooved boarded bee nest Nurturing Nature

These work but need cleaning and managed. You cannot see what is going on and have to unscrew them disturbing the fragile bee larvae if you want to watch them. They were put up next to one another in the same year. The old one I had not used for a few years. It had not therefore been cleaned and I left it like that to see how it performed. The other one on the left was brand new. You can see the bees preferred the new unused one to the old one.

Birds and mice

The British green wood pecker has a 10cm long tongue which is so long it has to be wrapped inside its skull and the greater spotted woodpeckers tongue can extend 4cm out of its mouth. A mesh in front of the nest box is hardly a deterrent with a long barbed tongue. Great tits also relish bee cocoons, as do mice when bee cocoons are left in situ inside reeds or bamboo canes or stored without adequate protection. Managing against such predators will increase your solitary bees. The nest blocks I use you simply turn the whole nesting unit around so they now face the inner wall!

Wrong positioning 

Several negative aspects affect the nest box position. If you position the nest box in the wrong place, I have found pests such as ants and earwigs soon find them, both of which can eat the pollen and eggs. Spiders can also take up residence! Weather, wind, rain, shelter, damp and vegetation can all have negative effects.

How positioned

The way and means the nest box is affixed to its permanent place can have negative effects on the bee boxes and consequently the bees.

Cavities

Solitary bees and solitary wasps build cells inside cavities. The length, width and materials used all have a bearing on the success or otherwise for the occupants.

 

Safe inside a Nurturing Nature nest block

This is what I designed to help eliminate many of the above problems with management.

Wild Bee Box with easy interchangeable nest blocks for other species

Wild Bee Box with easy adaptable nest blocks for other species

Why use Wooden Nesting Blocks by Nurturing Nature?

Many Solitary bees prefer to use wood to nest in

Easily cleaned and removed from nest box casing

Nest box casing design and dead end cavities allows for additional materials to be added to minimise parasitoid wasps

Easily viewed for inspection and pest/debris removal

Absorbs excess moisture by wicking it away from moist pollen reducing likelihood of mould formation which destroys cells

Long term investment, natural resource, reuse many times over

Harvesting of cocoons simplified (kids love this aspect!)

With management has the potential to increase your red mason bee pollinators

The dead-end cavities are easily adapted to cater for different solitary bees and harmless solitary wasps

The cavities are designed to save the bees time and encourage more females

Allows ‘loose cell’ or closed ‘cell management’

Widely spaced holes avoids high hole density nest finding confusion

24 reusable cavities for bees, 6 holes per nest block x 4 per nest box

Full detailed instructions and personal after care service.

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Marian April 11, 2015 at 1:53 pm

George,
So much information about bee hotels, and helpful to those setting out on this fascinating hobby’ ” friendly bee watching”. A very easy way to educate our youngsters today and teach them about the solitary bee, the tireless worker, who helps pollinates our flowers, fruit and vegetables, and that without the help of our bees, our gardens and countryside would look very different in the future.
Almost 100 per cent success with both my bee hotels last year (your design) the majority being leaf cutter bees. Looking forward to seeing the results of careful nurturing through the winter!
Cheers George, and thank you for all the information Marian.

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nurturingnature April 11, 2015 at 5:12 pm

Hi Marian, it needed to be said. People spending their hard earned money to help the bees, when in fact, they may well not be. Its a shame for them and the bees.Pass it on please the more people whom are aware of this the better for bees! Thanks, George

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Chris July 2, 2017 at 1:17 pm

Hi,
I am really impressed by your site(s) about red mason bee. It si wonderful that some people can do so much for these interesting insects.
Personally I have my first bee hotel and I am looking for my first bee generation – in next spring. I love these bees.
Regards
Chris

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nurturingnature July 3, 2017 at 8:33 pm

Good luck😀

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Chris July 4, 2017 at 1:38 pm

Thx.

Debbie April 22, 2015 at 8:18 pm

Hiya, we have a ‘bee hotel’ in our school grounds which last year for the first time had what I think are red mason bees. They have just started emerging but unfortunately despite thinking these bees wouldn’t sting, so safe to be in the school garden area, a little boy was stung on the stomach whilst attending my gardening club. The deputy head has now suggested that, for the safety of the children, we remove the bee house. I feel this would be a great shame for not only the bee’s but for the pupils too. Any suggestions as to how I could keep the wildlife at the same time keeping the children safe? Also any idea why the bee stung? The boy was digging over an empty flower bed at the time ready to sow seeds, he was in no way being a threat. Thanks.

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nurturingnature April 23, 2015 at 7:49 am

Hi Debbie, I strongly suspect that this was a honeybee, a sting which hurts and leaves a mark. Red mason female bees have a very weak stinger and you would need to man handle it between your fingers, with firm pressure for it to sting. If it did you would hardly notice it as it is like a weak pin prick without the surge of pain you get from a honeybee. Many 1000s school children in N America have mason bees in their school grounds and you know what the litigation is like there! HTH, Cheers, George

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Joe April 29, 2015 at 10:53 am

Hi George, I liked the design of your bee box until I saw the following picture – http://nurturing-nature.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Watch-the-red-mason-bees-inside-the-solitary-observation-nest-box.jpg
It seems that there is too much space between the wood and the plastic cover, which make it very easy for pests to migrate from one cavity to another.
I only have the picture available to judge, so I could be wrong of course.

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nurturingnature April 29, 2015 at 3:38 pm

Hi Joe, There are several pest management strategies I use to deal with some pests, including a slight design improvement to the nest blocks! Cheers, George

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Joe April 29, 2015 at 4:25 pm

I still love the design George 😉 I’m just worried that after time, due to the weather effects the wood will warp and no longer fits with the plastic cover.

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nurturingnature April 29, 2015 at 9:06 pm

They tend not to get that wet, due to the design!! Some are several years old now and still working fine! Cheers, George

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lec June 25, 2015 at 3:50 pm

I have a couple of the commercial bee houses containing bamboo canes. You mention that the canes should be changed annually, but at which time of year is it best to do this? We have seen solitary and leaf cutter bees use the houses, but have never renewed the canes.

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nurturingnature July 4, 2015 at 9:09 pm

It depends upon which bees used it Lec. If only leaf cutters, I would store them inside the canes immediately when nesting has finished. Difficult to say what pests or diseases are present inside the canes though.Cheers, George

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Mike September 21, 2015 at 9:21 pm

We have this summer set up a bee hotel which has bamboo tubes. We noticed that the tubes moved some distance out of the hotel and this week found one on the ground. Does any one have an explanation for this?

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nurturingnature September 21, 2015 at 10:28 pm

Birds or squirrels? Cheers, George

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Mike September 22, 2015 at 4:16 pm

Hi George,

Thanks for your suggestion. We have no squirrels around and birds would not be able to hover at the hotel front to pull out the tubes even if they were motivated to do so.
A real puzzle !
Regards,
Mike

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nurturingnature September 22, 2015 at 10:06 pm

Hi Mike, Woodpeckers, great tits etc can cling on the flimsyest of vertical wood faces, and do predate on cocoons after breaking open the out mud wall of masons or dislodging leaf pieces or masticated vegetation to seal the outer chambers…. Are any cocoons missing it does seem strange that something appears to have pulled a few tubes out…Cheers George

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David Eddy October 18, 2015 at 3:14 pm

Very interesting article but what time of the year is best to clean bee hotels to avoid damaging larvae? Any ideas please?

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nurturingnature October 18, 2015 at 10:04 pm

David, Now! Then winter store against mice. HTH, Cheers, George

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Ann Barker April 30, 2016 at 1:37 pm

Just a small comment (not on the bees!) The phrase you write as “two penneth” makes no sense, it may be pronounced roughly like that but is actually “two penn’orth”, that is short for “two pennyworth”.

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nurturingnature May 2, 2016 at 8:22 pm

Why thank you Anne, I’m a scouser and that’s what we say!! Cheers, George

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Patricia Lynn Hollister July 4, 2016 at 2:56 pm

Could I possibly have a copy of your plans to build the bee house?

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nurturingnature July 4, 2016 at 7:24 pm

I have emailed you Pat. Cheers, George

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sandra messenger April 18, 2017 at 10:26 am

I too would be interested in a copy of your plans to build a bee house if possible. Thanks

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nurturingnature April 19, 2017 at 7:30 pm

The plans for my registered design bee nest boxes are held in the manufacturers safe. Sorry. George

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David Shaw July 6, 2016 at 7:02 am

I have a grooved board type bee hotel attached to a wooden fence at the bottom of my garden. It is situated where it catches the morning sun, but is in shade by at least mid day thanks to a large conifer tree, it is placed it at least 6ft from the ground. I understand these “bee hotels” attract different varieties to nest in them and i understand that different bees emerge from the nest at different times of the year. I also understand that males and females of the same species emerge at different times. Upon inspecting the nest I can see some of these tubes are still occupied, and some have emerged, but of those that have, I cannot tell if all the cells right to the back have become vacant. I assume these are of the leaf cutter bee as these cells look what best described as similar to a cigar when I opened up the nest. Some of the tubes have never been lived in and are totally clear, but what I have found in only one of them is approximately three cells which are quite open (not lined with leaves) except for three or four walls separating the cells packed with around 20 or so dormant (but alive) very small maggot type grubs inside each cell. My questions are:1) Are these grubs parasitic? 2) Do the bees maintain these hotels themselves? i.e. do thy clear out old debris to create a new nest, and if not: 3) When is the best time of year for me to clean out the nest and how often should I do this?

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nurturingnature July 6, 2016 at 3:59 pm

Did you not receive instructions from the manufacturer David? I give very detailed instructions with my nest boxes and answer scores of questions every week from my customers…..These grubs will probably be parasitoid wasps, They may clean a little debris but in my experience they do not want to waste valuable time cleaning a cavity out. Late autumn annually. HTH George

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Ray opeland November 26, 2016 at 6:48 pm

I would like to get a couple of your bee boxes. Do you ship to the US?

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nurturingnature November 28, 2016 at 2:58 pm

I have sold many to N. America Ray. I will email you. Thanks, George

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Darryl Bourne February 11, 2017 at 3:27 pm

Do you ship to Australia? Mind emailing me pricing? I’m keen to try your boxes with our natives solitary bees of cost effective.

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nurturingnature February 13, 2017 at 11:35 am

Will email you. Cheers, George

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Nick Percival March 7, 2017 at 3:51 pm

Hi George
Fascinating tips on how to improve on the commercially available boxes! I have built some of my own out of bamboo canes in wooden “nestboxes” (which have attracted both Red Mason and Leafcutter Bees) before I saw this site, but there is clearly more to be done.
A couple of questions for you:
1) You mention cleaning out the nesting cavities in late autumn/winter. Are the bee cocoons loose in their cells at this time and able to be collected and stored separately for the winter?
2) The perspex/glass side walls in your design seems to extend to the open front of the blocks. Does light get in and disturb the bees? Would covering the front edge of the perspex/glass help?
Thanks
Nick

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nurturingnature March 9, 2017 at 8:40 pm

Nick I will email you. Cheers G

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Tracy April 28, 2017 at 8:03 pm

I recently bought a bamboo bee box or hotel and now I don’t really know where to put it and don’t want to attract wasps or the wrong bees. I put an aluminum sheet on the roof to give it a little overhang and attached it to a pole that I used to use for a bird feeder…Should this go near the house or out by my lilac bushes?? It does get some morning sun by the bushes but not as much protection from wind? Help!!! Thanks!

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nurturingnature May 3, 2017 at 7:48 pm

Difficult to say without seeing the garden Tracy. Did not youngest detailed instructions with your bee nestbox? South facing if poss. HTH, cheers, George

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Kayte Duggan May 22, 2017 at 6:34 am

Hi, I have had an insect house for 2 years now. It is one with different sized bamboo canes in it. Last year, I noticed that 3 of the holes were sealed with mud. I checked it one day and there were small holes in each of them. This year, I noticed there were 5 holes sealed with mud and over the last few days, a hole has appeared in each of these. I always thought that these were bees. I read something earlier about a fly with red eyes that invades the tubes and makes a small hole to get out. What do you think?. Also, when and how do I clean the tubes. There doesn’t appear to be anything in them at the moment.
Thanks.

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nurturingnature May 22, 2017 at 9:26 pm

Difficult to say..I clean my nest boxes in September which allows me to clear out pests and sort the cocoons out. Cheers, George

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Amber June 28, 2017 at 8:00 pm

Great article! If someone is looking for reeds or bamboo for a bee home, how can they be sure they are free of pesticides? If they are shipped from overseas, is it likely that the materials would get fumigated to prevent the spread of invasive species? You don’t want to provide homes that are laced with poison. Aside from going outside and picking reeds yourself, what’s the best way of sourcing them?

Thank you!

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nurturingnature July 3, 2017 at 8:32 pm

Good question Amber.reputable suppliers should be asked this question. Cheers Ge

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Kathy July 7, 2017 at 8:06 am

Help! A couple of questions please! I have a solitary bee nesting in one of the holes in my parasol where the pegs go in to open it. It seems determined to use it, even when we have it tied down when windy and rainy. I have now left it up and use the hole above. It looks like one end has been slightly closed, it is so tiny it is a bit hard to see. Not sure what to do when time comes to take it down. Also (as a result of all the activity)I bought a small round bamboo tube house which now has a lot of debris piling up at the bottom of the lip. Some of it today includes dried up leaves presumably from leaf cutting bees as our roses look like something from a jigsaw. They are flying around and going in, but is it too hot for them there? We are south facing and it is very hot. Not sure what to do. Can you help.

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nurturingnature July 7, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Difficult one with your parasol without seeing it. Depends exactly where the be hotel is sited…you could move it later. Cheers George

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Kathy July 8, 2017 at 10:44 am

Thank you. Just caught it going into the hole, but couldn’t get my camera on it in time. Both holes are now covered at the ends, so as we are getting a new parasol, maybe try at some stage to separate the trunk from the umbrella and leave it in a safe place. Leaf cutter bee still going into a hole in the bee house with a new piece of leaf, so will leave be as well!

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Martin July 17, 2017 at 8:18 pm

Great that folk care about bees but spare a thought for the ichneumons and other parasites! We hate them because of their seemingly despicable habits. But they are also fascinating animals, and unless we mess things up by do-gooding, or do-badding, our beloved bees will survive as for past millenia. The parasites can’t survive without the solitary bees’ success, so just provide plenty of flowering plants and let them sort it out. I’ve not a clue what leaf cutter bees I’ve got but their favourite building material is one specific type of Maple (out of several we’ve got). Anyone know which bee that might be?

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nurturingnature July 18, 2017 at 11:07 am

They use several different leaf species Martin. Cheers George

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Carole July 23, 2017 at 10:00 pm

Hello, I came across your site while trying to find out when my leaf cutter bees will hatch. I had a bee nest box affixed to a high pergola on my patio, but it was never used. During Storm Doris last year, the pergola was blown down and I put the box on a garden table in front of a fence, intending to put it up elsewhere. I never got around to moving it and this year 15 of the bamboo tubes have been filled by leaf cutter bees. It has been wonderful watching them every day throughout the hot weather, but very difficult to get any decent photos! One tube has been parasitised, I think. I saw a large black insect with a long ovipositor sniffing around the tubes and next day one had got a hole in it but the other 14 seem to be intact. All bee activity at the box has now ceased. Should I put the box into my small wooden greenhouse to store? If I leave it on the table there is a risk it could be blown over and it will be very exposed to all sorts of weather. I don’t know enough about the bees to be sure I am doing the right thing and I don’t want to risk them dying through my neglect. Any advice is very welcome. Thanks.

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nurturingnature July 24, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Put it in the garage out of harm’s way Carole. Put out next late spring. HTH, Cheers, George

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