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


  • 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)


  • 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


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


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


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


  • 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!


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!