Artificial bee ‘hotels’ consist of several dry, dark holes for solitary bees.
Photo Credit: Scott MacIvor

Bee hotels popular, but not always effective

Setting up bee hotels has become popular among Canadians who want to support declining bee populations and those who seek to improve their gardens. But not all bee hotels attract the kind of clientele people are looking for, says Scott MacIvor, a York University urban ecologist who studies wild bees in cities.

‘More than just honey bees out there’

“The bee hotel is a great effort for conveying to people that there’s more than just honey bees out there,” says MacIvor. “If people are concerned about bees we have to be mindful of all of these wild bees that we know very little about, especially with respect to the nesting requirements of them.”

ListenBee hotels a made of many dry, dark holes grouped together. They attract solitary bees who live as individuals, unlike the honey bees. But both kinds are very important pollinators which play a critical role in the development of fruit and other native plants. And research suggest it is the diversity of pollination and not the frequency that is impportant.

Urban ecologist Scott MacIvor says solitary bees are important pollinators. © David Gordon

Wasps and other interlopers can be observed

MacIvor’s research indicates that half of bee hotels spaces are actually used by wasps and one quarter are used by bees that are not native to the area. But he encourages all efforts. “The most encouraging thing I see is trial and error right now. We’re learning a lot about smaller designs in garden spaces and how it might impact or change local bee communities,” he says.

Bee hotels are great for monitoring the insects and observing the effects of changing the environment by introducing them. MacIvor encourages people to set up bee hotels and closely monitor them to see how they are used.

Categories: Environment & Animal Life, Internet, Science & Technology

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