kirke park’s pollinator hotel

Kirke’s Pollinator Hotel

In an effort to help support native pollinators, we built a pollinator house for Kirke Park!

These basic principles guided our design:

  • “first, do no harm” — use research-based, responsible design (see below)
  • focus on solitary, gentle, non-stinging, cavity-nesting bees (vs. ground-nesting bees, butterflies, or ladybugs) and experiment with a variety of nest material (cardboard tubes, hollow stems, nest blocks)
  • provide opportunities for observation and education

DESIGN

  • house walls: extend at least 1” past any nesting materials, for protection
  • roof: solid, sloped to deflect rain, generous overhang in the front
  • installation: mount securely / do not allow it to swing (easier for landing bees and safer for bee eggs)
  • house material: wood is best
    – untreated, no splinters (sharp edges can damage delicate wings);
    – fresh cedar is OK for structure, but not for
    nest blocks
  • nesting materials:
    – paper-lined tubes, natural reeds, and reusable wood trays are best;
    – everything should be removable, openable, and cleanable;
    – bees don’t nest in pinecones, moss, bark, or pine needles
  • tubes:
    – leafcutter & mason bees prefer diameters of 2-10mm (no bigger than a pencil);
    – length should be at least 6” long (length necessary to produce female bees) and capped in the back;
    – avoid moisture-trapping plastic, glass, metal, and impossible-to-clean bamboo
  • protection: protect hatching bee cocoons and nesting tubes (cocoon drawer, hardware cloth)

SITE

  • full sun, facing south or east (bees are cold-blooded and need the sun’s warmth)
  • place house 3 to 5 feet off the ground, with tube openings unobscured by vegetation

PROVIDE RESOURCES NEARBY

  • water & mud for mason bees
  • leaves for leafcutter bees
  • flowers rich in nectar and pollen

BE ORGANIC

  • do not harm your bees with pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, or herbicides

PLAN MAINTENANCE IN ADVANCE

When bees nest together, maintenance is required to reduce parasites and disease.

  • cocoons care: remove and clean in fall / store and protect over winter / put out in spring
  • sanitation: clean nest blocks and refresh paper liners every year; replace drilled blocks every 2 years

WATCH AND LEARN!

  • observe the bees through the seasons to see how they fare and what nesting materials they like best
  • make notes for next year’s improvements
Learn More About Wild Bees

Visit our Bee Page for more information about the gentle, solitary, wild bees you might find at Kirke Park — and in your own yard!

Installed!

We put up our Pollinator Hotel on March 15, 2024.

Welcome New Neighbors!

Once we had the house installed, we loaded the top drawer with a few mason bee cocoons. And not a moment too soon — one was already hatching. Welcome to the world, little bee!


Get Ready for Pollinator Week!

Pollinator Week this year will be June 17-23. It’s a time to celebrate our many pollinators friends (including bees!), raise awareness of how much they do for us, and learn what we can do for them. We’ll plan something fun to do in Kirke’s Secret Garden (more on that later!), but, for those who are inspired, this is a great opportunity for all pollinator-lovers to think about how to give our neighborhood pollinators a boost!


RESOURCES

  • Crown Bees | crownbees.com
    A one-stop-shop for everything you need to learn about and raise healthy, gentle, cavity-nesting, solitary bees. A local business!