All about bee hotels.
So how does it work? • The holes in the hotel resemble those found naturally in the wild. • The female Solitary Bee will select a hole in the hotel; one that is clean, smooth and the correct size and depth. • Once the hole is selected it will become her breeding nest. • From this nest she will fly backwards and forwards into the garden, collecting pollen and nectar for her future young. • The pollen and nectar will be mixed into a paste and placed into the rear of the hole. • Eggs will be laid next to or on the pollen mixture (species dependent). • This will be the young bee’s food supply as they grow to maturity inside the nest. • Once the process of filling up the “pantry” and the egg laying is completed, the nest will be sealed at the entrance to protect the eggs against predation. • Different materials, again species dependent, are used to seal the nest; it could be mud, saliva, leaves etc. • Once sealed the female will leave. The young now grow up safely on their own, feeding from the pantry until they reach maturity, at which stage they will eat their way out through the sealed door to take their first flight into the world. • The whole process to maturity can take a few weeks to a couple of months. • As Solitary Bee species are independent of each other and need different sized holes they are very comfortable living in close proximity to each other in the hotel.
What does the hotel attract? You may be happy to know that the hotels do not attract honey bees. There are many species of solitary bees varying in size (from tiny to slightly smaller than a honey bee), colour and breeding requirements. Some breed in holes in wood, reed stems while others may prefer to breed in the ground. The hotel offers a safe alternative for the bees preferring to breed in holes in wood. Although the hotel is a protected alternative, once the warmer weather starts and these tiny bees become active you may notice the odd parasitic wasp visiting; she will try to sneak a couple of her own eggs into the nest of the solitary bee. A process that will keep you spell bound.
Be proud knowing that you are helping our Wildlife.
Membrane bee closing its nest
   Some of the bees that may breed in the Hotel. Common Names: Membrane or Cellophane bee: These bees belong to the Colletidae family due to the smoothing of the nest, separation of cells and closure of the nest with a secretion applied by their mouth parts. This secretion dries into a cellophane like lining. The African species are all pollen collectors, carrying their pollen in their crop or on their legs. …………………….. Common Names: Mason and Leaf Cutter bee: These are the most efficient pollinators because of their energetic swimming like motion in flowers. They fall into the cosmopolitan family Megachilidae, and as their name implies generally describes the material they use to build their nest cells. The Leaf Cutter bees cut leaves to seal each egg chamber in a nesting hole and to seal the hole. They do not collect pollen on their legs but instead the females have bristle type hairs on her abdomen designed to trap pollen. …………………….. Common Names: None known. The family Allodapulla range in size from less than 1mm up to 7mm. This bee is endemic to South Africa with their colour ranging from black to reddish. Unlike the families Megachilidae and Colletidae they do not have separate cells in their nest and feed their young progressively (look after their young until adulthood). They collect pollen on their legs and will use the flat part of their abdomen to block the entrance to their holes when threatened.
Where to Hang your Hotel? The biggest challenge is deciding where to hang the hotel. 10 minutes to put it up. Then sitting back and waiting for your first tenant. It takes roughly 2 weeks for the first tenant to move in. Once this happens the hotel becomes prime real estate attracting others bees continuously . The winter months are very quiet as breeding does not take place. Depending on how cold it gets many of the bees will remain dormant biding their time for spring. • In an early morning sun spot. They are cold blooded and need to warm up before they can get out of bed and get going • Out of the noon day direct sun (too hot) • Secure location. • Somewhere dry. Getting wet results in the wood rotting and fungus growth. • Can be at any height; eye level is good for adults, lower for children. Examples of places to hang them: • Veranda (Stoep) • Patio • If in a flat, on the veranda or on the outer window sill • A wall that is in dappled light and out of the rain • On a post in a boma
Is it safe and will it attract Honey bees? • NO, Honey bees will not be attracted to the hotel. They live in colonies and need a box/hive in order to fulfill their requirements for breeding. • The majority of solitary bees are stingless. • They are extremely passive and gentle. • Some may sting only in self-defense. • You can get fairly close to peek in the holes; the bees will not come out and attack. Like all wildlife, respect goes a long way to a happy relationship.

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