Our Chief Commissioner has been working with Wex Bee Aware on a  nationwide project where Guide units around the Country will make and install Teacup Bee Hotels. Solitary Bees tend to look for places to nest in the Spring and Summer so we would like to see you all undertaking this project to create Bee Hotels for the Spring 2020.

What’s so special about Solitary Bees? An im age od a Bee Cup Hive

  • Solitary Bees vary considerably in size, appearance and where they choose to nest. Roughly 70% are called mining bees and nest in underground burrows. Bees that nest in houses are called Cavity Nesting Bees.
  • They do not live in colonies, produce honey or have a queen.
  • They do not produce wax to construct the cells inside the nest instead different species use different materials to construct their cells and nests.
  • They are fantastic pollinators: a single Red Mason bee is equivalent to 120 worker Honeybees in the pollination it provides.
  • Do not have pollen baskets for carrying pollen, meaning that each time they visit a flower they lose far more pollen than Social Bees, which makes them much better pollinators.
  • They provide each larvae with everything it needs but they do not tend to the young as they grow and never get to see their offspring emerge.
  • They are non-aggressive and do not swarm.
  • They are safe around children and pets.

What happens in the Bee HotelA bee over some bamboo sticks

The female bee lays 20 to 30 eggs during her life.

When a bee finds a nest she will collect materials to create the cell for her first egg: a ball of pollen stuck together with nectar for each larvae to eat until it develops into an adult bee. 

She places the ball inside the cell and lays an egg on top, leaving space for the larvae to grow into an adult bee. She builds a partition wall and repeats the process until the whole tube is filled, leaving a space at the entrance of the tube empty before closing it off and moving on to another tube.

Females choose whether to lay male or female eggs: since males emerge a couple of weeks before the females she lays all the females at the back and males at the front.

Solitary Bees spend their early months hidden in the nest growing. They then spend the winter as a cocoon (or pupa) before emerging the following spring or early summer as adults. Once the adult bees have mated, the female looks for a suitable nest and the cycle repeats itself.

What you need

  • A large porcelain mug/cup
  • Long bamboo sticks
  • Hessian
  • Secateurs
  • Scissors
  • Aluminium wire (or similar for hanging your hotel)

How to make

Cut a rectangle of hessian and place inside your cup as a lining. (you can use glue to stop the lining from slipping)

Carefully using the secateurs, cut bamboo pieces to fit the length of your cup, the sticks should not protrude the lip of the cup, to help protect them from rain.

Insert the bamboo into the cup until full.  The sticks should be snugly fitting and not be able to move.

Wrap wire around the mug handle or use the handle to hang up your Bee Hotel.  Choose a sheltered but sunny south facing position on a tree, fence, wall or post at least a metre off the ground, with no vegetation blocking the entrance.  The bamboo must be facing down to protect from rain.