Maintaining Your Bee Hotel
When your first flowers bloom in early April, bee activity will begin. Bees will emerge naturally from your hotel when they are ready. If you used an emergence box then remove it from its protected location and place it within a hundred feet radius of your hotel. The emergence box provides protection from the predators and diseases over the winter months. Birds, wasps, ants and mites find bee larvae to be a tasty treat. If you haven’t used an emergence box, perhaps you should consider one for the next year.
Perhaps the easiest way is to make an emergence box is to use a covered plastic pail or container. If you prefer, build one out of wood. Paint the container black and drill a ½ inch hole near the bottom. Cover this hole with duct tape, cork, or something similar while it is in the storage. Keep the box in an unheated protected space such as in a garage or a shed. Remember to open the ½ inch hole when you place the emergence box outside in early April.
The photo below shows a bee hotel with new insert material, with the black emergence box containing overwintering bees in last year's inserts placed on the ground beside it.
The emerging bees in the black box will then be able to nest their new clean home.
It is recommended that the nesting materials to be replaced every two years. You could refresh the wood blocks and bamboo by re-drilling the holes. Soak them in a 30% solution of bleach and water for about ten minutes AFTER all the bees have emerged in late May or early June. Throw away all the reeds yearly and gather fresh ones. I recommend that you have two sets of nesting materials: one set to place in your hotel in early April, and a second set containing bee larvae to store over the winter.
* The internet has lots of information about bee hotels. Unfortunately some information can be disastrous for the bees. I recommend that you refer to THE XERCES SOCIETY for accurate advice.
Happy hotel managing!