6. How to Raise Wild Bees & Bee Hotels

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6.1 Get to Know Bee Hotel Guests

6.1 Get to Know Bee Hotel Guests

Chances are, your backyard is home to a variety of wild hole-nesting bees and beneficial wasps.

Related to bees, beneficial wasps are also solitary garden companions who help to keep your insect population in the right balance. Wild hole-nesting bees and wasps come in many shapes and sizes and they all have their favorite food sources and seasons of activity.

Why Raise Wild Bees:

  • To get to know your local native bee species
  • To ensure or improve pollination of your garden and wild places
  • To provide missing nesting habitat for bees
  • To help other gardeners learn how to care for their local bees

What Wild Bees Need:

  • A variety of nesting hole sizes from 4-10mm
  • Minimum daytime temps above 50F(10C) (each species has their preference)
  • Open blooms and native flowers
  • Natural nest-building material for protective walls or cocoons: leaves, mud, pebbles, tree sap, plant fuzz, etc.
  • A Bee Friendly Garden free of chemicals


Wild bees are very easy to raise! No protective gear needed, no hive or honey upkeep.

  • Spring set up: 15 min
  • Fall & winter protection: 10 min
  • Spring cocoon harvest: 30 min

As you provide healthy nesting habitat, you are getting to know your wild bees and beneficial wasp guests. You have two choices for how to take care of your bees:

  1. Leave their filled nesting holes intact and provide fresh nesting holes
  2. Open nesting holes and harvest wild cocoons

Each wild bee house management option has its pros and cons - leaving nesting holes intact saves time but doesn’t give you the chance to learn your guest’s characteristics. Harvesting cocoons takes more time but you’ll learn more about your guests, like if they make cocoons and what conditions they need to emerge. No matter your choice, providing clean and fresh nesting materials each year will support the health of your wild bees and wasps.


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