By Rut Hormann, TTF intern & Ryan Neuman, Upstream Conservation Leader
If you’ve ever been to one of our restoration sites along our creeks in Abington or Cheltenham, you’ve probably wondered about the brightly painted boxes on poles in the middle of our plantings. These boxes aren’t just for decoration, they are pollinator hotels!
A pollinator hotel is an artificial nest that provides shelter for solitary species of insects such as bees and wasps. These species of bees and wasps do not make honey and are not aggressive. Some common species of bees that are found in pollinator hotels are various species of mason bees and leafcutter bees, as well as mason wasps.
The hotels that we put out are decorated, providing a little extra color at our restoration sites. These simple boxes provide valuable support to the health of the ecosystems in our plantings. They help to attract pollinators which keep our plants healthy and help pollinator populations from decreasing.
Most of our pollinator hotels are found in our riparian buffer locations, which are creekside plantings of native trees, shrubs and flowers. These plantings filter and slow polluted runoff before it flows into the creek, and provides habitat for many species of birds and insects.
Some of the places we have installed these hotels are: Abington Friends School, Rock Lane Park, Ethel Jordan Park, and Abington Junior High School. We have also installed have a pair of hotels at Alverthorpe Park on the berm of our bioswale, which is planted with native flowers to help manage water from the parking lot next to the baseball field.
As you can see from the picture (above) of a pollinator hotel at Alverthorpe Park, the holes are pretty small. It’s recommended that holes are between 2 and 10 mm in diameter. Larger holes will not become occupied. Some of the holes that are occupied are covered over with mud and others are covered with pieces of grass. The larvae are within these cavities, and will eventually emerge!
Curious about making a pollinator hotel? And making a pollinator and aster happy (as pictured to the left)? It’s easy, and there are plenty of resources out there to help you do it with your family or group. Here are two:
We also host volunteer events with partners, where we make and decorate pollinator hotels. Our hotels are often filled with wooden blocks with various different hole sizes drilled in them or hollow stems of plants. In the pollinator hotel pictured, bamboo and phragmites stalks are also used; however there are many native plants that can be utilized as well.
An important thing to consider is that pollinator hotels must be maintained. If not properly maintained, these can do more harm to pollinators then good. Make sure to change or clean the material inside on a yearly basis, so that mites within the tubes do not become a problem.
Curious about learning more about pollinator hotels or how you can help our watershed? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org