Recently, I’ve been fascinated by garden structures called “wild bee hotels”. These odd little buildings vary widely in style and construction–some are roughly the same shape as birdhouses, but instead of a single hole in the front, the face is composed many hollow reeds where bees make their homes. Some hotels are simply a series of holes bored into a log or stone, while others most others feature a combination of these styles. Among all the different types of bee hotels, the purpose stays the same: to provide a home for the lesser known solitary bee, also known as the wild bee.
About Solitary Bees
Only about 7 of the nearly 20,000 species of bees live in honey-producing hive societies. Most of other species are solitary. This means every female (not just a queen) is fertile and inhabits a nest by herself. Typically these are tunnels in the ground, but often wild bees will inhabit hollow reeds, twigs, or holes in wood.
Why build or buy a wild bee house?
If you already have a garden, bee hotels attract these helpful insects to your backyard. Although they don’t produce honey or beeswax, wild bees still act as pollinators for your garden. Maybe best of all, solitary bees are often stingerless. Even species with stingers– lacking a hive to protect– are non-aggresive and only sting when provoked.
As you may be aware, the world honey bee population has been in decline in recent years. Many other species of bee are also vanishing due to the loss of habitat and feeding grounds. By providing a nesting place for wild bees, you’re helping preserve creatures essential to the survival of the ecosystem. It’s also a great way to certify your yard as an official wildlife habitat–according to the National Wildlife Foundation.