One of our frequently asked questions is:
"Do I need to replace the tubes in my bee hotel?"
The answer is a big: YES!
Unmaintained bee hotels can be lethal to our solitary bees as they are a breeding ground for mites and diseases that can be passed between bee species. If water gets in, mould and bacteria can also grow and make our bees sick.
If every bee hotel was properly installed and maintained, it would drastically support our dying solitary bee populations.
Locate Your Bee Hotel
First, you need to observe if the bee activity has reduced and retrieve your hotel from the garden.
Don't worry about upsetting any bees as solitary bees are considered non-aggressive since they have no honey to protect.
Are They Done Nesting?
The best time to clean out your bee hotel is early summer.
This is because solitary bees will lay their eggs and cap the holes with grass, wax or mud in late summer to early fall. Over the winter, they will develop and then hatch in the spring.
If the tubes are still blocked, you know that there are bees in your bamboo nesting tubes.
If you are unsure, remove the questionable tubes and place them in a cupboard box with a small hole. This will protect them from other insects that feast on baby bees. Place this box in a warmer area such as an outbuilding with an open window for them to escape.
You can also use sawdust or grass seeds to cover the tubes to further protect the bees from pests; the young bees will push through this protective layer.
Clean the Tubes
Use a small paintbrush or pipe cleaner to clean out the bamboo nesting tubes.
You can also blow compressed air inside to clean out any debris.
Remove the Tubes
If it has been a couple of years since you last replaced the tubes, you must remove the bamboo nesting tubes and replace them all with new ones.
After cleaning/replacing your tubes, inspect the rest of your hotel.
Look for any water damage, mites or other insects lurking in there. (This is a bee treehouse only, so no other bugs are allowed!)
Brush out any dirt or debris from inside the hotel to give your next bee family the best and safest stay. If you rinse out any bigger messes, make sure you let it dry out in the sun before putting everything back together.
Leafcutters and Mason Bees. The Messiest of Bees of All!
These kinds of solitary bees can make cleaning a hotel hard as they get into all the smallest spaces. Having a sustainable bee hotel like ours or creating one yourself with removable parts will save you a lot of work.
Thank you for helping us look after our bees!
We'd love to hear from you!