At the request of a Scott Farm orchardist, Master Craftsman Jared Flynn built this bee hotel into this feature wall in the Stone Trust Wall Park.
Bee hotels are built as nesting space for solitary bees. Solitary bees don’t form hives like honeybees; each bee is the worker, the queen, and the protector of her own young. They nest in tunnels, like those drilled into this bee hotel, and are happiest building their nests together in communities. And since they have no hive to defend, solitary bees are very friendly, only stinging when squished.
The bees can’t make their own nesting tunnels, because don’t have the biting/chewing mouthparts to drill. In the wild they’d use old wood borer tunnels and hollow stemmed plants like Asters, Raspberries, and Bee Balm. To mimic that, Jared drilled 6 and 8 mm holes in wood and put out 8 mm cardboard tubes. Each hole is 5″ deep and is open on only one end.
Solitary bees emerge in the spring, spend their days foraging for pollen and nectar, and then select tunnels to lay their own eggs. They’ll create a series of cells in each tunnel and place one egg and one polled ball per cell before capping each with mud or leaves. Over the fall and winter the eggs will hatch and go through both the larval and pupal stages before emerging as fully grown adults next spring.
Bee boles were built mostly in walls of stone, but where stone was not the common building material. The wall often bounded a garden or orchard. The bee boles usually faced south to south-east so that the bees would be warmed by the morning sun. Bee boles seem to have been a specialty of Britain, where over 1280 sets have been recorded.
More information can be found at the IBRA Bee Boles Register here.