To avoid THIS:
Image credit GeeBee60
The horrifying image above is a mason bee covered in dangerous mites. Mites infiltrate bees' homes and attack bees that return to the same place to nest season after season. This is why some bee hotels have instructions to clean them or replace them every year. Unfortunately, many bee hotels on the market are not designed to make this easy. For an excellent analysis of native bee hotels, please visit this website. The bottom line is, a bee hotel that looks cute to us humans is not necessarily a smart choice if you want to save some native pollinators.
The bee hotels pictured above are cheap and look nice! However, the cons seriously outweigh the pros here.
There are many considerations when it comes to bee habitat design. Here at BeeFoster, we have done extensive research to ensure our nurseries have the right features to provide safety and comfort for all sorts of native bees. Let's get into it:
1. Tube depth
We use paper straws that are 7.75" in length. When tube-dwelling bees lay their eggs, they put male eggs near the front entrance and female eggs in the back. Having a long-enough tube - generally agreed to be at least 6" - means that bees can have the right ratio of males to females. This is very important, since females do the vast majority of the work. Thanks, ladies!
2. Variable diameters
Our straws vary in size, having diameters of 6mm, 8mm, 10mm, and 12mm. This means that wherever you live, native bees in your area will be able to find the right-size home. We love to encourage biodiversity and hope that our nurseries house a variety of bees of all shapes and sizes.
3. Breathable material
Bees are susceptible to moisture, which is why we use paper materials in all our products. Paper is breathable and this helps prevent mold and rot from taking hold. Other materials, such as plastic, glass, and bamboo, retain moisture and become hazardous if they are unable to dry out.
Our nurseries feature protection from predators and weather with a hardware cloth net and substantial overhang. The lightweight exterior has a weatherproof coating that allows water to roll off the top without soaking the nursery. Yes, it's still corrugated cardboard- but it can handle even the roughest storms.
5. Sturdy installation
Both our nurseries are designed to be installed in such a way that keeps them level and immobile. They won't get knocked around like hanging bee hotels, ensuring that a generation of bees can grow safely and securely.
6. Single-season use
That's right: our products are designed to be used for one season and one season only! Our materials are recyclable and compostable so you don't have to feel bad about using a disposable product. We realized that most people simply don't want to clean out their bee houses year after year, so we removed all the hassle. This keeps your bees safe from mites, and you can set up a new nursery next year.