We purchased a bamboo “Bee Hotel” earlier this summer and strictly followed the directions for mounting it. Under the eaves, early morning sun, and near dirt for the mason bee to plug the end of the bamboo.
The instructions said that our hotel would attract mason bees and they would find their way to the hotel even in early fall months. So far we only have six customers!
When I Googled “Bee House” I was alarmed to find many people remove the bee cocoons at the end of the summer and store them in their refrigerator! YIKES! The information I found on the internet said mites and fungus could infect the cocoons. However I discovered after a little more investigation that folks need to do cocoon cleaning if they have many bee houses and are keeping mason bees on a large scale.
I could NOT imagine keeping bee cocoons in my fridge!
The bees using your bee hotel are adapted to the cold temperatures of winter, so it isn’t necessary to move it for the winter. However, if desired, you can remove the bee hotel and keep it in an unheated garage or shed, or sheltered from the wind, such as under a deck. Be sure to put it back in its place before the temperatures reach above freezing, or the snow melts. If the bee hotel is too warm over the winter,
the bees may emerge too early, and have no food available to eat.
Proper maintenance of a bee hotel is essential not only for the health of the bees that use it, but also to extend the life of the hotel itself. Because bee hotels have many tunnels close together, fungus and mites may spread more easily than they would in a natural environment.
Cleaning your bee hotel every year is important to ensure that your bee hotel benefits bees. Tunnels should be cleaned in the spring, after the bees have emerged. Keep a eye on your bee hotel in the spring to see if bees have emerged. The tunnel will no longer be capped off, but debris will remain inside the tunnel. You might even see a bee come out of the tunnel. Clean out the tunnels with a pipe cleaner, small straw brush, or by blowing compressed air inside.
I can handle cleaning out the tunnels in the spring! WHEW! I’m too old for new responsibilities like caring for bee cocoons.