On September 12, 2016, UNC Asheville officially launched its very first campus hotel. Rather than serving the tourist population, this one serves the locals! Local bees, that is.
Through the combined forces of students, faculty and staff from multiple colleges, non-profit organizations and sponsoring businesses, the Bee Hotel is now providing much needed habitat to our native pollinator populations. Click on the accordion links below to learn more and access our resource files so that you can build a bee hotel of your very own.
The Bee Hotel is just one of many projects that UNC Asheville is pursuing as an official Bee Campus USA. We welcome groups and individuals who would like to take a tour to learn more about our pollinator-friendly activities. Feel free to email us for more information!
What is it?
The Bee Hotel is a large sculptural installation that was designed and built for the purpose of providing solitary native pollinators with a place to lay their eggs and over-winter. The structure is located in the main pollinator garden on University Heights, just across from the entrance to the North Asheville Tailgate Market lots.
Through a collaboration with the Asheville Design Center, a group of students from UNC Charlotte and Clemson University developed original designs for the structure using feedback from campus community members, local professionals, and subject area specialists.
Each individual cell of the Bee Hotel is furnished with dead plant stems, bamboo, drilled wood pieces and mud blocks (as well as some additional decorative elements). These materials will be replenished annually to avoid the propagation of pathogens that could be harmful to the Hotel’s residents.
The project is managed by the Office of Sustainability, with support from Campus Operations, the Student Environmental Center, the Bee Club, and the department of Biology.
Why is it Important?
UNC Asheville’s Bee Hotel provides a place of refuge for our native pollinators that are confronting a number of environmental threats, including massive habitat loss. Below are a few reasons why providing habitat to pollinators is important.
- Native pollinators are a necessary and integral part of our Western North Carolina ecosystem
- Many pollinating insect species are currently either threatened or in severe decline
- Pollination is a major ecosystem service that supports or local agricultural producers and provides us with much of our fruit and vegetable supply
How to Create a Bee Hotel
Propose your Idea
When beginning the process of establishing a Bee Hotel on your campus it is important to write up a clear step-by-step proposal. This proposal will be directed to all the different university departments that will need to be involved in order for the project to be successful. This could include your facilities (or physical plant) department, the sustainability office, the department of environmental health and safety, the grounds department, as well as individual faculty members from departments that may be able to use the installation in their curriculum. Student groups that focus on gardens, biology, ecology, and sustainability may also take an interest and be willing to support implementation.
Pick a good location
If you have pollinator gardens on your campus, consider locating your bee hotel in close proximity to one or more of these gardens. When building a bee hotel the aim is for it to be successful, and placing the structure near a pollinator garden increases the likelihood of a variety of visitors. You may also wish to locate the structure in an area that will not require individuals to approach it unless they choose to. This will reduce perceived risk associated with bee and wasp stings. It is important to note that solitary bees and wasps are not aggressive and the sting hazard of a bee hotel is comparable to that associated with any native garden plantings on campus. Reach out to your local extension services agent for support in making the case for the bee hotel if you run into cautious resistance. In many cases, people are simply under-informed regarding the behavior of solitary native bees and wasps and they assume that these insects represent more of a risk than they actually do.
Choose or create a design
The designs for the UNC Asheville Bee Hotel are available to be used or adapted by other non-profit organizations and government agencies. You may also wish to consider how a unique, individualized design could complement or enhance the charateristics of your selected site.T
There are a number of great online resources provided by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation that include information on bee habitat considerations, key characteristics, locations, maintenance and models. “Native Pollinators: How to Protect and Enhance Habitat for Native Bees” is recommended as it provides great background information about why these efforts are critical as well as very practical tips for gardens and bee boxes.
If you have a resource that you would like to share with others on this topic or a recommendation regarding commercially-available bee boxes, feel free to send them our way!
Now it is time to fill your hotel with spaces for native pollinators to inhabit. It is key that a variety of research is done on what materials to collect, since most bees prefer a very specific size of cavity.
We used dead wildflower stems with a variety of diameters, bamboo, wood pieces, and mud blocks.
Educate and Engage
Finally, after the completion of your bee hotel it is important that the campus community becomes educated on the issues. Hold talks on the importance of pollinators, provide tours of the bee hotel, and more!
UNC Asheville Bee Hotel Design Drawings
These drawings are available for your use and creative adaptation. We ask that they only be used for non-commercial purposes and that you let us know if you have found them helpful.
UNC Asheville Bee Hotel Design Drawings: Structure
UNC Asheville Bee Hotel Design Drawings (2): Module Assembly