NC State Extension Publications


Plant species that are native to North Carolina can be used in landscaping to encourage natural nesting, or as a source of nest materials for bee hotels. Some of these native species are rather weedy, and some of the non-native species are invasive and should not be planted; these species are bold and highlighted red (Swearingen and Bargeron 2016). Even these problematic species, when present, can be harvested for nesting materials to include in bee hotels. This list is not exhaustive, and you could experiment with any number of dried perennial stems as nesting material. Bees rarely nest in live plant material but will use dead twigs and dried stems.

Table A3-1. Plants that produce hollow or pithy twigs that can be used for nesting materials in bee hotels.

Latin name Common name Native to North Carolina* Bees recorded
Ambrosia ragweed yes Megachile
Arundinaria cane yes
Brassica mustard no Ceratina, Hoplitis
Cirsium thistle mixed (C. arvense and C. vulgare) Megachile
Dipsacus teasel no Ceratina
Erianthus alopecuroides silver plume grass yes Ceratina
Erigeron canadensis horseweed yes Ceratina
Helianthus sunflower mixed Hoplitis, Megachile
Lactuca biennis wild lettuce yes (M, P) Ceratina
Phragmites australis common reed mixed
Phytolacca pokeweed mixed Megachile
Rhus sumac yes Ceratina, Heriades, Hoplitis, Hylaeus, Megachile
Rhus glabra smooth sumac yes Heriades
Rhus typhina staghorn sumac yes (M, P) Ceratina
Rosa rose, wild rose mixed Ceratina, Megachile, Osmia
Rubus blackberry, dewberry mixed Ceratina, Hoplitis, Hylaeus, Osmia
Rubus idaeus blackberry no Ceratina
Rubus idaeus var. strigosus raspberry yes (M) Ceratina
Sambucus canadensis elder, elderberry yes Ceratina, Hoplitis, Hylaeus, Osmia
Sassafras albidum sassafras yes Ceratina
Syringa lilac no Ceratina
Verbascum thapsus mullein no Megachile
Vernonia ironweed yes Megachile

* Plants that are only reported to genus often include a mix of native and non-native species. Where species are native to only part of the state, they are indicated with M (mountains), P (piedmont), or C (coastal plain). Native status from (Weakley 2020).

† We are not aware of bees using these materials spontaneously, but they have been occupied when they are cut and included in bee hotels.


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

Publication date: July 6, 2022

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