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Bee Hotels: a safe haven for Michigan’s wild bees

December 19, 2018

Why protect wild bees in Michigan?

Michigan has an extraordinary 465 known species of bees. All of these bees play different roles in our ecosystem, including pollination of wildflowers and crops! We can thank Michigan’s bees for pollinating crops such as apples, blueberries, squash, cherries, and many others. Unfortunately, habitat loss is making life hard for many bees, with some bee populations declining over the past few decades.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What can you do to help bees?

Build a bee hotel! You may be wondering what exactly a bee hotel is. A bee hotel is a structure, often built of natural reeds or wooden blocks, that provides a habitat for cavity-nesting bees. Unlike honey bees and bumblebees that typically build hives, these bees like to nest in small cavities in trees, sticks, and reeds, or in your bee hotel! By providing these bees a nesting habitat, you are helping manage their populations, and conserving important pollinators in your backyard.

What kinds of bees use bee hotels?

About 30 percent of the 5,000 native bee species in North America build nests in a variety of aboveground cavities or tunnels. In Michigan, there are two main kinds of cavity-nesting bees:


Mason Bees (Osmia): These bees are typically most active in the spring, and will most likely be the first to reside in your bee hotel. Mason bees get their name from their habit of using mud and other “masonry” materials in constructing their nests which they build in small cavities. They will likely be the first residents in your bee hotel for the season!

 

Leaf-cutter Bees (Megachile): Although they often go unnoticed, leaf-cutter bees are quite magnificent. They are typically active in the summer. These bees will chew leaves or petals into fragments to line their nests. They typically build their nests in hollow twigs, or small cavities in trees. Adding a bee hotel to your backyard gives these bees another option when looking for nesting habitat!

 

How to build a bee hotel:

While it is possible to purchase a pre-made bee hotel online, it’s almost just as easy to build your own pollinator haven!


For more information and a step-by-step guide on building your own bee hotel, please visit:  

https://www.canr.msu.edu/resources/building_and_managing_bee_hotels_for_wild_bees_e3337 

 

 

 

 

 

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