Bee homes and B&Bs, the unknown risks and hazards of creating Bee Cemeteries, but there's still light!

I just wanted to post this to help raise awareness of this unsettling information I recently stumbled upon. I was on the verge of making my own Bee B&B (or something similar) involving a weather-proof box housing some hollow tubing such as reeds, bamboo and possibly a drilled wooden block, in the hopes of giving solitary bees a place to call home. However, my enthusiasm was soon curbed when I chanced upon the following information detailing how such designs more often than not become what's being termed as "Bee Cemeteries". Unless the tubes can be opened up and cleaned out, or replaced then they soon become infested with disease and parasites such as pollen mites. Resulting in generation after generation of bees becoming infected and worse still passing on such pests to other bees and flowers whom they would come into contact with. Learning of this I was mortified, the very last thing I'd want to do is to end up contributing to the already dire situation bees are facing. Fortunately though I was pointed in the direction of Crown Bees (http://crownbees.com/) in America. Although they're only working in America and cannot ship their products here I (and I'm sure others) can come up with some great ideas from their own inspiring work. Crown Bees sell a range of products such as easy tear reed tubes etc. these can be opened up, cleaned out and replaced with fresh new ones. However, in terms of easiest on the budget and sustainable products, personally I prefer their wood trays. These are interlocking trays which can be held together with straps, then opened up, cleaned and put back out ready for next season. Better yet is you can manually clean the bee cocoons you find using a bleach solution (that doesn't hurt the bees) to clean off any present fungus, parasites, etc. Therefore ensuring the best possible chances for any bees that would use your Bee house, using these wood trays. Here's a link showing the specific design of the wood trays: http://crownbees.com/shop/leafcutter-bees/nesting-material These wood trays make cleaning out infectious holes easy and quick, therefore making each hole safe to use after each use and reducing the spread of disease and parasites. Therefore supporting bee populations even more! Here's a YouTube video showing you how: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdacewt_hdw As the goal is to support bees as much as possible I felt this information was important for people to know as I think I was very lucky in stumbling upon it. I know not many people would be able or willing to take the trouble of cleaning out wood trays and caring for bee cocoons over winter, but I'm sure everyone would be keen to know that their expensive or painstakingly crafted Bee B&Bs and hotels have a limited life span. Unless using a sustainable method of cleaning out the tubes or trays, the whole lot may need throwing out and replacing every 1-2 years, depending on how quick they are to become infected. Sorry to put a downer on something a lot of people would be proud of and have enjoyed doing, but surely in the interests of bee conservation, it's better to know than to not know and be disappointed further down the line. I'm going to be looking into having my own wood trays constructed as I don't think it's possible to get the Crown Bees design here in the UK, but at least making it myself means I can incorporate a more 3D design which the bees would appreciate much more as it will aid their nest hole location ability. Thank you for taking the time to read this message, in the interests of nature I hope you find it useful and implement this information in your endeavours for nature and pass it on to as many people as you can.
  • Thanks for putting up this information Sabemou, it would be awful for people to think they were helping the bees only to be putting them at risk of infection.   I suppose it is a little like cleaning out the bird feeders and tables as they too can pass on infection to the birds, and the more people are aware of this the better.

    Lot to learn

  • In reply to gaynorsl:

    Hi Sabemou,

    The american species of bees are slightly different than the native UK ones - so the bee hotels made by American companies will not necessarily be used by British bees. An interesting article is here.

    We got a number of insect hotels (ladybird, lacewing and bees) from Green Gardener. I quite like their products. Usually at the end of each season I clean all the hotels with their wormerie parasite powder, then warm soapy water, then let them dry and put them up again. Their solitary bee hotel is reusable and you can insert new cocoon chambers each year. Check it out, you may find it of interest.

    My Gallery

    "Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way." John Muir

  • In reply to Marina P:

    Will this problem apply to the pre-made bee boxes that you can buy for solitary bees?  In which case, at what time of year should they be cleaned out?  I have three boxes with holes that this year have either been plugged with  mud or just recently with leaves.