There’s a new hotel in Waterton Canyon that houses more than 500 guests. But you may have trouble getting a reservation.
That’s because the new digs are actually for solitary bees — a moniker for bees that do not live in colonies, produce honey or have a queen.
Housed in 1-foot-long chunks of wood with 5- to 7-inch-deep drilled holes, the Mason, Wool Carder and Leafcutter bees are taking up their new residences in the “bee hotel” this summer and fall.
The project, created by Denver resident Philip Cuka and Denver Water recreation ranger Terri Doolittle, is part of an effort to help provide more nesting environments for the native bee population and boost educational opportunities for visitors to the canyon.
Cuka thought of the idea while attending a leadership program where he was tasked with creating a community project. As an engineer with an interest in native solitary bees, he connected with Doolittle about his idea this past March. The two saw the project as an opportunity to enhance the guest experience in the canyon, and bring more awareness to solitary bees, which provide 70 percent of U.S. produce from their pollination.
Cuka was surprised how far one small idea could go as volunteers flocked to help him after hearing about the bee hotel through word of mouth in the Littleton community. Local Girl Scout and Cub Scout troops volunteered to bring in their own wood to place in the bee hotel.
“There is such a power in people when they believe in what they are doing,” said Cuka.
Using recycled materials donated by Home Depot of Littleton, Colorado, to build the bee hotel frame and expert bee habitat advice from The Bees Waggle, the bee hotel had its grand opening on July 21. The troops brought their own personalized chunks of wood that were placed in the frame, creating the new living space.
According to The Bees Waggle, the timing is just right, as the bees are building their nests for their offspring to stay during winter.
With the launch of the Watchable Wildlife program earlier this summer, the bee hotel is another amenity to help recreationists connect to nature in the canyon.
Looking to create your own bee sanctuary at home? Stop by the bee hotel, roughly a quarter-mile up the canyon trail, for inspiration and visit The Bees Waggle “get-started” page for tips and tools for raising your own native bees.