If bees had a tourism industry, it would be buzzing. Following the 2014 success of Canada’s first pollinator bee hotel, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts have announced that they’re expanding their fleet of bee-friendly rooftop resting places for solitary pollinator bees, which make up 90 per cent of the world’s bee population and pollinate one-third of the food we eat.
In addition to the existing refuge that sits atop the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto, six more pollinator bee hotels will be built across Canada, from Whistler to Winnipeg. An additional ten are destined for public green spaces.
The importance of solitary bees
Bumblebees and Honeybees live socially, and are the media darlings of the bee world. But there are hundreds of other wild bee species that live alone, sans colony.
While most crops are pollinated by honeybees, wild bees ensure garden plants and wildflowers get pollinated too. But due to habitat loss, fragmentation and unhealthy environments, solitary bees are suffering. These bee hotels serve as a resting place for these transient bees as they fly through cities.
Making a bee hotel
The structures were built using local and recycled materials, and cost between $50 and $100 to make, says Alexandra Blum, the global vice president of public relations and partnerships at FRHI Hotels & Resorts. The mini hotels were designed by architecture firm Sustainable.TO with the help of Pollinator Partnership Canada.
They discovered that the pollinator bees enjoyed luxurious sheepskin-lined nesting places, and cylindrical holes in logs that were 1cm wide and 20cm deep. The ‘bee butlers’ also added twine-wrapped herbs in various places within the structure to attract the bees. Learn to make your own backyard bee hotel here.
While final numbers have yet to be determined, Blum reports that one indication that the Royal York’s pilot project was successful was the many bee eggs that were laid. This brings the total number of worldwide bee hotels to 21. The bee hotels were developed through Fairmont’s Bee Sustainable program and the WILD FOR BEES partnership with Burt’s Bees Canada.
Click on this photo to see more bee hotels