A hotel for wild bees and wasps : was built at Moscowzoo


MZoo_Bee hotel_Berezin_M_5573.JPGAn unusual exhibition - "A hotel for single bees and wasps" was opened at Moscow zoo on the banks of the pond at the new territory. Many species of these beneficial insects live independently on flowerbeds and tree and shrub plantings at the zoo. The zoo entomologists with the help of specialists from the garden department, the exposition department and the engineering and technical service created this «hotel» in order to help the bees and wasps find comfortable nesting sites. The females of these small active insects, although they have a sting, but unlike honeybees or social wasps, are not dangerous for people if they do not try to catch them.

In the 19th century, the famous French entomologist and naturalist Jean-Henri Fabre proposed to make and hang out artificial nests to attract single bees and wasps. In Russia in the 1920s and 1930s, this direction was actively developed by the well-known specialist in the hymenoptera insects Professor S.I. Malyshev. In Moscow Zoo in 1929-36 there was a whole "apiary for wild bees and wasps", which for the first time among European zoos was organized on the experimental site of the "Pedagogical insectarium" by its creator and leader B.S. Shcherbakov. For the arrangement of such "apiaries" or "hotels", as they are called in Europe, various natural materials are used, in which cylindrical cavities with a diameter of 2-10 mm are already available or can be made manually. These can be hollow stems of grassy plants, such as reeds, soft-core plant branches, such as elder trees, dry deciduous tree logs with tree-gnawing insects or perforated holes, clay with "passages" made in it, rolled on glass rods and then glued tubes of parchment or coated paper, etc. Now these "hotels" can be seen in many European zoos: in Paris, Riga, Amsterdam, Bristol and others, and now again at Moscow zoo.

Who can live in "hotels for bees and wasps"?

Solitary bees are among the most important hymenopterous insect pollinators, or anthophils, who cross-pollinate flowering plants while visiting flowers to collect nectar and pollen. Many species of agricultural and wild flowering plants need to be pollinated by insects. Therefore, it is very important to preserve the species diversity and number of pollinating insects and create favorable conditions for their reproduction and development.


Bees (superfamily Bees - Apoidea) count more than 20 thousand modern species. Among them, only the honeybee (Apis mellifera) was "domesticated" by man. All species of bees take care of their offspring and need flower pollen and nectar for their own nutrition and feeding their larvae. Females of most bee species have special organs for collecting pollen and nectar. Among the bees there are single ones, females of which build their nests separately from others and independently take care of their offspring, and social ones, living in families or colonies, and kleptoparasitic species, or cuckoo bees, whose females "lay" their eggs in the nests of other bees species. Among the public bees, the most famous are honeybees and bumblebees. Single bees are referred to earthen or digging bees by type of nesting, arranging their nests in self-dug in the soil minks - these are various species of Andren (genus Andrena), halictus (Halictus) and spring anthophora (Anthophora plumipes), inhabiting the lawns of Moscow zoo, stem bees and tree-grawing bees using hollow plant stalks or gnawing cavities in dead wood for nests, and bees builders who build their nests from clay. All types of single bees need protection, since their number is reduced due to the development of wastelands, spring grass burning, chemical pollution of the soil, excessive mowing and a decrease in the diversity of flowering plants on lawns and forest edges. 22 species of single bees are included in the Red Book of the city of Moscow: horned and bicolor osmium (Osmia cornuta and O. bicolor), Florentine, cuffed, punctured and oblong wool-bees (Anthidium florentinum, A. manicatum, A. punctatum, A. oblongatum), bee-carpenter (Xylocopa valga), spring, dull, two-spotted and forked anthophors (Anthophora plumipes, A. retusa, A. bimaculata, A. furcatus) and others. Many of them live on the territory of Moscow zoo.


Our "hotel" invites to a permanent settlement of stem bees of the family megachilidae (Megachilidae).

In nature, these bees choose the hollow stems of various plants to build nests — umbrella, cereals and others, thatched roofs or passages of wood-burning insects in dead wood. Their nests consist of several consecutive cells, in each of which the female lays one egg and a supply of food — pollen and nectar to feed the larvae. To collect pollen, females of stem bees have a small brush of hairs on the underside of the abdomen, in contrast to the "earth" bees, which have special hairs on their hind legs for this purpose. Some species of megachylid bees are artificially bred in order to pollinate the crops.


Different types of megachylid bees use different materials to build the shell of nesting cells. Leaf-cutting bees of the Megachile genus cut out oval or round pieces from the leaves of trees and shrubs; mason bees of the genus Anthidium collect plant fluff, chelostomy (genus Chelostoma), horned osmium (Osmia cornuta) and hoplite (Hoplitis manicata) use the ground as the building material, red osmiums (Osmia rufa) smear the walls of the cells with clay, and heriades (genus her ) – with resin.


Single wasps are the most important insects-entomophages (translated from the Greek. - “insect eaters”), limiting the number of herbivorous insects. In contrast to social wasps (German wasps, hornets, etc.), females of single wasps, as well as females of single bees, build their nests separately and independently take care of their offspring. “Ground” wasps make their nests in self-excavated in soil burrows, and the “stem” ones use different cavities in the stalks of plants or in dead wood for nests. The females of the wasps feed their larvae with other insects or spiders, and themselves, like the males, eat mostly carbohydrate food, getting it from the nectar of flowers or juicy fruits.

Our "hotel" invites to a permanent settlement of sand wasps from the family Crabronidae and Eumenes wasps from the Vespidae family.

Sand wasps: pemphredon (genus Pemphredon), psenulus (Psenulus), passalecus (Passaloecus), stigmus (Stigmus) – hunt for aphids, trypoxylon (Trypoxylon) and pison (Pison) - for spiders, psen (Psen) - for cycads, ectemnius (Ectemnius) – for the flies. Monavie wasps of the genera: diskelius (Discoelius), allogenous (Allodynerus) and ancistrocerus (Ancistrocerus) prey on caterpillars of butterflies and the larvae of sawflies.

Take care of these useful insects!

Text by M.V. Berezin