For a few years I’ve maintained structures in our backyard we call Imagination Stations. They are like shelters but too small to be comfortable for a person. I’m constantly adding to these things and they have both changed quite a bit over the seasons.
Last weekend we learned about bee hotels on the Secret Gardens of Oakville garden tour. It occurred to me that since I have these pre-existing structures, I might be able to easily make some changes to them to make them more inviting for bees.
Bee hotels in our area typically attract mason bees and leafcutter bees, which require hollow stems or existing holes for nesting. These are small, stingless native bees and they are serious pollinators. There are no guarantees that bee hotels will attract bees and there are many factors involved. As well, other bugs might like the new digs and move in, and these can include wasps. The good thing is that solitary wasps (that will live in this kind of structure) are not nasty stingers like the yellow jackets and also have a place in the greater ecosystem.
Today I started making some changes to Imagination Station #1 to make it a more inviting place for bees. The white items are sculptural elements provided to us by our friend Jacob Yerex. I have some of the logs with holes on the ground and others higher up to accommodate different species of bees. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, moves in.
Some people are confused when we introduce the backyard structures as Imagination Stations. For those folks I can say, actually, they’re bee hotels.