Frequently Asked Questions
Following are a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) that will help you build your Weleda Bee B&B Hotel.
If you have any other questions please send them through to us and we will expand our FAQ list.
1. Which type of plants will most likely attract pollinators to our Bee B&B Hotel?
The more plants / plant types you make available the more varieties of bees you will attract. Most bee species are generalists, feeding on a range of plants through their life cycle. A few suggestions are:
- Native flowering plants and shrubs like grevillea, water gum, wattle, bottle brush, tea tree and native peas.
- Kitchen garden essentials such as parsley, coriander, celery, fennel, lavender and rosemary.
- Flowering plants such as agapanthus and daisies.
It is best to have plants that flower all year, some great ones are bush basil, calendula and borage. For more information on which plants to select, visit http://beesbusiness.com.au/articles/Choosing_plants_to_attract_native_bees.pdf
2. What colour flowers best attract bees?
It is best to choose a selection of different coloured flowers. Bees have good colour vision to help them locate flowers and the nectar and pollen they offer. Bees are particularly attracted to blue/violet, mauve/pink, white and yellow flower colours.
3. Will we get other insects in our Bee B&B Hotel other than bees?
You might have other visitors knocking on your door - the more the merrier! Here is a list of what you can expect:
- Ants – some small ones
- Bees - native bees (resin bees, reed bees, masked bees, leafcutter bees), non native (African Carder bee)
- Crickets – some small mole crickets but not common
- Wasps – grass-carrying wasps, mud wasps, potter wasps, (all native and non-aggressive)
4. What if we see ants in our Bee B&B Hotel?
Remove individual stems. If the ants are in the block, they can be left or cleaned out with a drill bit.
5. What insects won’t we find in our Bee B&B Hotel?
There are some that won’t be interested in nesting in your Bee B&B Hotel, here is a list of those:
- Birds (although they might feed on the hotel residents)
6. What type of materials do we need to put in our Bee B&B Hotel?
We strongly suggest that the children in your class source the insides of the Bee B&B Hotel. This will help extend their learning in this area and make them feel that they have played a special role in providing the nests for the nursery that they are building. If each child brings a couple of handfuls of materials there will be plenty to use to fill your Bee B&B Hotel. We recommend the following natural materials be used:
- Drilled hardwood – untreated in any way.
- Soft deadwood such as banksia, casuarina, melaleuca and leptospermum
- Rolled bark from eucalypt tree
- Any hollow stemmed plant
- Plain paper straws, free of harmful dyes.
7. What types of materials can be used to attract different bees?
Common types of bees you will find around your area are listed below as well as the natural type of nesting materials and man made nesting materials they prefer. It is important to know that 30% of native bees will live in pre-existing cavities, which is the type of habitat we are providing. The other 70% of native bees live in the ground.
Black Resin Bee
- Old borer holes made by insects in tree trunks
- Resin bees will nest in drilled hardwood blocks
- Stems of woody weed lantana, coral tree, grass tree spikes, tree fern fronds and other hollow stemmed plants
- Reed bees will nest in small holes drilled into dried lantana stems
- Stems of tristania, acacia and grass tree spikes
- Masked bees will nest in bamboo canes and small holes drilled in hardwood
- Nest are constructed in small cavities under bark or in rock crevices
- Leaf-cutter bees will nest in large bamboo canes
8. Do we need to prepare the nest materials or can we just stick them in?
It is very important that you ensure the openings of the nest samples have cleanly cut entrances. This ensures the bees are uninjured when they enter. The female turns around to lay an egg and if the entrance is ragged or rough she may catch her wings. This will deter the bees from using the habitat. If you use drilled wood, ensure the drilled holes are well bored out and the face of the block is sanded.
9. Our school wants to source our own nest materials and can’t seem to find enough.
Please contact the Weleda office and we will send you a selection of nest samples to ensure you have enough to fill your hotel. Contact details can be found on our website beehotel.weleda.com.au
10. How do we make the materials stay inside the Bee B&B Hotel?
The best way is to lie the Bee B&B Hotel on its back, tip it on a slight angle and start putting the materials in. If you are finding that the sticks and other materials keep falling over, secure a handful, wrap a rubber band around them and place these bundles of materials into the bee hotel. It is important to pack the materials in as tightly as you can.
11. Can the Bee B&B Hotel be strengthened?
If you have decided to use materials for the inside of the Bee B&B hotel that are slightly heavier than the bamboo sticks, we recommend you secure the frame together with wood glue before securing in place with the nails provided. Please ensure that the glue has completely dried before the bees start using it.
12. What is the groove under the roof piece for?
The 'drip groove' or 'capillary groove' underneath the roof piece helps stop water from flowing back underneath the roof by means of surface tension and or capillary action.
13. Do we need to paint the Bee B&B Hotel?
Painting of the Bee B&B Hotel is with exterior paint is optional, however it will extend the longevity as it is going to be placed outside and will face all sorts of weather conditions.
If you do decide to paint it, it is important to that the Bee B&B Hotel is completely dry before you start to fill it with nesting materials, this ensures it will be safe for the bees.
14. Does the mesh need to be attached?
If you prefer to leave the mesh off your Bee B&B Hotel then do so, however it is recommended for ensuring the insides of the hotel do not fall out. If you feel you have tightly packed your materials and nothing is likely to fall out then feel free to leave the mesh off the front of the hotel.
15. Where is the best place to put the Bee B&B Hotel once completed?
It is important to place you completed Bee B&B Hotel in a warm, sunny and sheltered spot at least 1.5 to 2 meters off the ground, so little fingers don’t find their way inside the burrows.
It must be firmly fixed so that it does not swing or sway in the wind. We suggest you don’t hang it from a branch, instead using the hole in the back, attach it to a pole, wall, fence or tree where it will be secure.
Select a location where the children can watch the activity safely, once you have it in place, never pick it up. When observing the activity, it is important that you don’t stand in the flight path of exiting and entering bees, instead, ensure children stand to the side of the nest.
16. We love our Bee B&B Hotel, are we able to order another one?
If you find you need to start putting up a ‘no vacancy’ sign outside your Bee B&B Hotel, please contact the Weleda office for another one, we would be more than happy to provide you with more accommodation.
17. How much time does it take for the pollinators to start using the Bee B&B Hotel?
In order for the bees and other pollinators to stay at your Bee B&B Hotel it is important that you provide them with lots of flowering plants. The chances of success are much higher if there is food (floral resources) available in the area to attract the bees, and then they will look for a place to nest. Choose wisely and it will pay off. Some hotels may be occupied in the first season, but others may take a little longer.
18. What happens inside the Bee B&B Hotel?
Each species is different, however, generally 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.
19. Are there any things we should look at to ensure a healthy Bee B&B Hotel?
There are a few things that you can look out for to keep your Bee B&B Hotel healthy − keep out of the wet weather where possible, clean away any spider webs around the front of the hotel and most importantly plant lots of flowering plants to ensure resident insects are healthy and happy!