NC State Extension Publications


This quick-reference list summarizes the best practices suggested throughout the document.

  • Nesting tunnels of breathable materials, not plastic or glass
  • All tunnels have smooth entrances, free of splinters
  • Paper and cardboard tubes used only as liners in sturdier tunnels
  • Total number of tunnels in a bee hotel under 100
  • Nesting tunnel diameters 5/64″–1/2″
  • Nesting tunnel lengths around 6″ (3″–8″ is reasonable and other lengths could be good for some species)
  • Tunnel entrances spaced about 3/4″ apart, perhaps with contrasting color patterns or 3D configuration
  • Tunnels are in a shelter that overhangs the nest entrances by a couple of inches
  • Shelter floor has drain holes
  • If (and only if) birds, rodents, or other predators become a problem, a sheet of chicken wire goes over the nest entrances
  • Shelter is about 5 feet off the ground
  • Tunnel entrances are intentionally oriented relative to sun and wind; facing southeast is often recommended
  • Nesting blocks or reeds are staggered by about 3/4″ so that not all nest entrances are in the same plane
  • The shelter itself, or the fronts of nesting blocks, may incorporate yellow, blue, or white paint
  • Hotel may be mounted on a larger structure such as a shed
  • Nest materials are not moved or rearranged while in use (only in winter or at night if you must)
  • Landscape includes flowers for nectar and pollen
  • Landscape includes nesting resources (mud, sand, resin, leaves; see Appendix 2)
  • Flowers and nest construction materials are available within about 1/10 to 1/4 mile from the nests
  • Nest materials are emptied using an emergence box, then retired or disinfected with bleach every one to three years

Table A1-1. Threats and Countermeasures.

Threat Countermeasure
Woodpeckers or other birds
  • Protective housing (chicken wire covering on shelter)
Pathogens (mold or fungal infections)
  • Select breathable nest materials (no glass or plastic)
  • Retire or disinfect nest materials regularly (every 1–3 years)
Parasitic mites
  • Retire or disinfect nest materials regularly (every 1–3 years)
Parasitic wasps
  • Select natural materials (wood, stems, reeds) for hotel cavities (safer than paper (Dicks et al. 2010))
  • Provide cavities with thick walls (some parasitic wasps can penetrate through 3/4″ of wood)
Cuckoo bees
  • Cuckoo bees and some parasitic wasps will be impossible to avoid. Natural bee populations regularly lose 10%–30% of their offspring to parasites (Wcislo 1996; Groulx and Forrest 2018; Tepedino and Parker 1983). You can expect similar losses, even in a well-maintained hotel.


Assistant Professor and Extension Urban Ecology Specialist
Applied Ecology
Local Foods Coordinator - Local Foods

Publication date: July 6, 2022

N.C. Cooperative Extension prohibits discrimination and harassment regardless of age, color, disability, family and marital status, gender identity, national origin, political beliefs, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation and veteran status.