Pollinator Patch - Native Bee Nests

Are you feeling caught in the transition zone between seasons, itching to get out into your garden, yet cautious of Mother Nature's potential surprises? Perhaps your creative minds will find satisfaction in building native bee nests. Native bees such as Mason, Leafcutter, Mining, Sweat and Bumblebees are important and interesting pollinators you can attract to your garden by providing habitat that can be purely functional, or can double as garden art!

To attract bees you need to create 3 types of habitat: foraging (food), nesting, and hibernating. When constructing native bee nests, we do advise you on two aspects: 1) do your best to use natural materials, found outside, but 2) do not use cedar wood, as it has insecticidal properties (hence the reason it lasts so well in outdoor construction).

Consider drilling holes in stumps or logs from a felled tree... collect twigs and branches...hang bundles of bamboo or hollow shrub stems...build small gravel or rock piles in sunny locations. When collecting your natural materials, ensure there is not a native bee or two nesting there already! If you’d prefer to reclaim rather than gather wood, perhaps there is a college or shop in your neighbourhood that generates wood waste, in the form of small pieces of 2x4 (not pressure treated!). Generally, you can pick this up for free.

The following links will take you to both basic and more elaborate plans that may inspire you to design your own "insect hotels!"

Nesting Habitat for Native Bees - blog post by Anna Hess, who graciously allowed us to use her photo of the stem bundle nest (above)

Pollination Guelph native nest plan (PDF file).

Xerces Society instructions for nest-building (PDF file)

Watch as Lindsay Coulter "Queen of Green" shows you how to make a simple nest and bee bath. (Just find or make a "natural-material" carton or box! I wouldn't trust any chemical residues from a waxed or plasticized milk carton).

Blue Orchard Mason Bee houses

Enhancing Nest Sites for Native Bee Crop Pollinators (Another PDF, from this site).

If interested in Leafcutter Bees homes, scrolling down to the Control heading will provide instructions.

You can also watch these Leafcutter Bees from the UK in their human-made home.

Get ready to be enchanted and inspired by this clip of German "insect hotels."


~Kim Fellows, Pollination Canada

Photo Credit Links:

Athena Rayne Anderson, Pollinators.info

Hans-Jurgen Martin, www.wildbienen.de

Kathy Garvey, Bug Squad

Greg Corman, Zen-Industrial

Back to April 2012 Newsletter