Okanagan bees check-in to custom-built hotels - InfoNews

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Okanagan bees check-in to custom-built hotels

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April 05, 2019 - 5:00 PM

OKANAGAN - Even bees like to put of the ritz from time to time. They enjoy entering a fancy hotel, putting their feet up, snacking on some tasty treats, and taking a break from the daily grind (or buzz).

Honey bees have it easy; they've got beehives. But what about wild bees? Where are their resorts and hotels? Nancy Holmes is teaching people how to build resorts for our yellow-and-black friends.

Holmes, an associate professor at UBC Okanagan, helped kickstart the Border Free Bees initiative, which seeks to educate the public about wild pollinators. She recently gave a speech to the university's Women in Trades program explaining how to make bee hotels and now she's offering tips on the structures to anyone who's interested.

So what exactly is a bee hotel? While it might not be as fancy as spa resort in the Swiss Alps, bees will certainly appreciate it. A bee hotel can vary in shape, size, and design, but at its core it is a habitat structure for wild bees; essentially bees that don't have hives.

Bee hotels typically have an overarching roof-type structure to protect the inhabitants while the interior is filled with tubes containing food. Bees can fly in for a snack while also being safeguarded from some of the elements.

Holmes said wild bees need these hotels, noting that there are over 350 different kinds of bees in the Okanagan. She said wild bees aren't studied as well as honey bees, but research has shown they struggled through the past winter.

"Wild and native bees are under a lot of stress," she said.

Bee hotels can give these buzzing workers a leg up in the Okanagan. Best of all, these bees aren't lazy houseguests. Holmes said bee hotels can help home gardens flourish when they're customers pollinate.

"When you support bees, you help the Okanagan," she said.

Holmes hopes projects like the bee hotel can teach people about the variety of bees that exist in the Okanagan.

Anyone interested in creating a five-star resort for roaming bees can contact Holmes at nancy.holmes@ubc.ca for more details.

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