Great gardens and healthy ecosystems need pollinators and creating small, backyard bee hotels are an easy way to attract hardworking native bees.
Kerry Wood Nature Centre is running a bee hotel workshop on May 28, from 1 to 3 p.m. Materials will be provided.
“It sounds a lot fancier than it is. You can make bee hotels out of a lot of stuff you have hanging around,” said
Kathryn Huedepohl, public programmer with Waskasoo Environmental Education Society.
She said the centre used chunks of two by fours, about 12 cm long, and some tubing stuffed with short hollow perennial stems.
“They are very natural-looking, inconspicuous things that do an amazing job.
“You can put it anywhere out of the way. If you want it front and centre, you can do that too. But it’s fine in a back corner.”
She said native bees could use some help with the rise in non-native bees and hotels provide more places for native bees to thrive.
Ken Lehman, the city’s parks, ecological and planning specialist, said if gardeners want pollination they should be inviting native bees into their yards.
“Our native pollinators are so important, so much better than the non-natives because our native bees come out earlier in colder temperatures. They forage in a way that is much more diverse,” Lehman said.
He said there’s over 300 kinds of native bees here.
“A lot of people have a fear of bees. A lot of native bees don’t even sting. And if they did it would be like a mosquito bite.”
Bee hotels provide cavity-nesting bees with another place to lay eggs spring and summer. Some will also overwinter in the hotels.
And he said hotels won’t attract wasps.
“(Wasps) are not going to set up shop in your bee hotel because that’s not what they need for habitat. They are a social nester. They build their own nest.”
The city is trying to educate the public about the role of pollinators by installing pollinator hotels at Bower Ponds and has plans to put them into City Hall Park and Snell Gardens.
“One in every three bites of food is thanks to pollinators,” Lehman said.
Huedepohl said concern for native bees is starting to grow compared to last year at this time when the centre wasn’t getting any questions about bees.
“I think bees are one of those hidden things. People don’t realize how important they are,” Huedepohl said.
And it’s best to do something to help them succeed before problems develop, she said.
Pre-registration required for the bee hotel workshop. The cost is $10 plus GST for Kerry Wood Centre members and $12 plus GST for non-members. Call 403-346-2010 for more information.
More ideas on bee hotels can also be found online at www.xerces.org, www.davidsuzuki.org, or www.reddeer.ca.