Bee hotels and native flowers

There are around 2000 species of native bees in Australia, most of which are solitary bees with only a few choosing to live in colonies. Solitary bees will find a hole to lay a single egg provisioned with pollen and nectar before closing this section and repeating until the cavity is full. This is why bee hotels provide great homes or rather nurseries for our native bees.

Bee hotels come in many shapes and sizes. It’s great to see so many creative designs.

The most important aspect is the dimensions of the holes. They need to be optimally 15cm long (at least 10-20cm). Native bees lay male bees in the first part and female bees in the back part of the hole. If the hole is only 5cm they will predominantly lay male bees and this could shift the gender balance in the population.

Native bees like holes that are closed at one end and are a variety of widths 3mm to 12mm. Bamboo and wood with holes drilled are ideal. Reed bees specifically borrow into pithy centred material such as lantana and hydrangea cuttings.

Rumbalara Bees has bee hotels (pictured) available for purchase ( and in their bee hotel workshops. These bee hotels have a durable terracotta exterior that have a unique hexagon design. Each bee hotel is 15cm deep.

Bee hotel position and maintenance 

Native bees like a sheltered position away from the rain, wind or searing sun such as under the eave of a house or shed. Elevate off the ground to approximately 1m (or between knee to eye height).

An annual check-up and clean out is all your bee hotel needs to prevent it from harbouring pests and disease. Once a nest has finished and the new bees hatch, the wood and bamboo can be removed and replaced. You’ll know the nest has been vacated once the seal on the front of the tube is broken and bees emerge.

Food for bees

Flowers provide pollen and nectar which are food sources for both the adult bees and developing baby bees. Rumbalara Bees has a native flower seed mix available that’s specifically for attracting more native bees into your garden. Each seed packet contains;

Pycnosorus globosus (Billy Buttons) are a perennial Australian native flower forming low clumps of silvery coloured grass-like foliage, 40cm wide and 60cm tall. Produces tall golden yellow globe shaped flowers on sturdy stems. Great for native gardens, beds, border and makes an excellent cut or dried flower. Good for attracting native bees, drought tolerant and suitable for coastal sites.

Brachyscome iberidifolia (Brachyscome – mixed splendour) Annual Australian native growing to 25cm. Grey/green foliage with dainty single flowers in a mix of blue, pink and white. It has a spreading habit making it ideal for borders, rockeries and edging.

Xerochrysum bracteatum (Everlasting Daisy – mixed) is a short lived perennial that grows to 90cm. Australian native daisy with large flowers featuring golden orange centres and papery textured petals in a mixture of colours which includes shades of red, pink, orange, yellow and white. Great for native gardens, container plantings, garden beds, borders, coastal areas and rockeries. Low maintenance, tolerant of poor soil conditions and drought. Makes a fantastic cut or dried flower lasting indefinitely. Flowers over a long period from spring through to autumn. Great for attracting native bees and hoverflies.

Seed directions: Raise seedlings or sow direct, depth 1-3mm. Germination 7-21 days @ 18-24°C. Spring and summer. Full to part sun. Well drained soil.