Pick up know-how for tackling diseases, pests and weeds.
Farm bill, farm marketing, agribusiness webinars, & farm policy.
Find tactics for healthy livestock and sound forages.
Scheduling and methods of irrigation.
Explore our Extension locations around the state.
Commercial row crop production in Arkansas.
Agriculture weed management resources.
Use virtual and real tools to improve critical calculations for farms and ranches.
Learn to ID forages and more.
Explore our research locations around the state.
Get the latest research results from our county agents.
Our programs include aquaculture, diagnostics, and energy conservation.
Keep our food, fiber and fuel supplies safe from disaster.
Private, Commercial & Non-commercial training and education.
Specialty crops including turfgrass, vegetables, fruits, and ornamentals.
Find educational resources and get youth engaged in agriculture.
Gaining garden smarts and sharing skills.
Timely tips for the Arkansas home gardener.
Creating beauty in and around the home.
Maintenance calendar, and best practices.
Coaxing the best produce from asparagus to zucchini.
What’s wrong with my plants? The clinic can help.
Featured trees, vines, shrubs and flowers.
Ask our experts plant, animal, or insect questions.
Enjoying the sweet fruits of your labor.
Herbs, native plants, & reference desk QA.
Growing together from youth to maturity.
Crapemyrtles, hydrangeas, hort glossary, and weed ID databases.
Get beekeeping, honey production, and class information.
Grow a pollinator-friendly garden.
Schedule these timely events on your gardening calendar.
Equipping individuals to lead organizations, communities, and regions.
Home to the Center for Rural Resilience and Workforce Development.
Guiding entrepreneurs from concept to profit.
Position your business to compete for government contracts.
Find trends, opportunities and impacts.
Providing unbiased information to enable educated votes on critical issues.
Increase your knowledge of public issues & get involved.
Research-based connection to government and policy issues.
Support Arkansas local food initiatives.
Read about our efforts.
Preparing for and recovering from disasters.
Licensing for forestry and wildlife professionals.
Preserving water quality and quantity.
Cleaner air for healthier living.
Firewood & bioenergy resources.
Managing a complex forest ecosystem.
Read about nature across Arkansas and the U.S.
Learn to manage wildlife on your land.
Soil quality and its use here in Arkansas.
Learn to ID unwanted plant and animal visitors.
Timely updates from our specialists.
Eating right and staying healthy.
Ensuring safe meals.
Take charge of your well-being.
Cooking with Arkansas foods.
Making the most of your money.
Making sound choices for families and ourselves.
Nurturing our future.
Get tips for food, fitness, finance, and more!
Understanding aging and its effects.
Giving back to the community.
Managing safely when disaster strikes.
Listen to our latest episode!
By Sarah CatoU of A System Division of AgricultureJune 7, 2018
(1,192 words)(Download this story in MS Word format here.)
LITTLE ROCK – Consider yourself warned, honey bees: the solitary bee may steal your
Although honey bees often dominate the discussion when it comes to the world of winged
pollinators, Jon Zawislak, apiculture instructor for the University of Arkansas System
Division of Agriculture, said they’re actually outnumbered by solitary bees.
“Most of the world’s estimated 20,000 species of bees are solitary bees,” Zawislak
As the name implies, he said, solitary bees are not very social — unlike honey bees
or bumble bees.
“Very few bee species live together in colonies,” Zawislak said.
Each female solitary bee establishes her own nest after mating, and creates a series
of small brood cells. Male bees die immediately after mating. Their lack of sociability,
he said, could be what makes solitary bees so efficient.
“Once a female has started a nest, she begins gathering the pollen and nectar to provision
it,” Zawislak said. “Because these solitary bees are not trying to store an enormous
amount of honey to feed thousands of colony members all winter, they spend much more
time gathering pollen to supply their own brood. For this reason, these bees are considered
to be very efficient at pollinating flowers.”
But this isn’t the only reason these bees can be more efficient than honey bees.
“Also, honey bees can forage up to several miles from home, while many solitary bees
will likely never go more than a few hundred yards from their nests their whole lives,”
he said. “This makes them ideal pollinators for small scale backyard gardens.”
Zawislak said that, while plant preference will vary from bee to bee, some plants
are much better off with some native pollinators.
“Native plants attract native bees,” he said. “Some bees are highly specific about
the plants they will pollinate while others are more general. But for new world plants
like pumpkins, squash and blueberries, native species are more efficient at pollination
than honey bees, which were originally imported from Europe.”
Building a house
Nesting blocks for solitary bees and other native species are not hard to make and
can attract some pollinating guests to your garden.
“Simple nesting blocks can be easily produced by drilling holes in any piece of untreated
wood,” Zawislak said. “Different species prefer hole diameters ranging from one-eighth
to three-eighths of an inch. Homeowners can experiment with various sized holes in
increments of one-sixteenth of an in or less and see which sizes appear to attract
the most bees in the area.”
Some other measurements that should be taken into consideration are depth and spacing.
“Holes should be spaced at least three-fourths of an inch apart and be three to six
inches deep, and they should not be drilled all the way through,” Zawislak said. “This
is important because bees will not nest in a tunnel that is open at both ends, and
many store-bought native bee nests unfortunately may not be constructed properly.”
If you don’t have a drill, there are other ways to make a nest.
“Sections of hollow cane or bamboo can also be bundled together to provide solitary
bee habitats,” Zawislak said. “Just be sure to cut the bamboo just behind a node,
so that the tunnel has a solid back wall on one end.”
Once the bees get settled in, they start to make the house a home.
“Bees will divide the tunnel into numerous cells,” Zawislak said, “then bees deposit
female eggs toward the rear of the tunnel, while male eggs are usually place in the
front, towards the entrance. In case of predation, only males will be affected.”
Depth of the hole should be decided carefully, as different depths have different
“Deeper holes will accommodate more female bees, and therefore increase the number
of pollinators for the next season,” Zawislak said, “but holes that are too deep may
not be utilized.”
There is a trick to moving and cleaning, but watch out for some unexpected, yet helpful,
“Some people use paper tubes or straws to line nesting blocks so that they can be
removed and the blocks can be cleaned properly,” Zawislak said. “Occasionally solitary
wasps will take up residence in these holes, but these rarely become a problem, and
may also contribute to biological control of caterpillars and other pests.”
These bees like to stay close to home, and when fall rolls around they leave behind
quite a surprise.
“These nesting blocks can be placed around the landscape to attract bees and promote
pollination, because the bees that establish in those nesting holes will forage and
pollinate in the immediate vicinity around the nest,” Zawislak said. “In the fall,
when no more bee activity is observed, the tunnels should appear plugged with mud
or leaf bits, which mean it’s full of overwintering bee pupae!”
Placement of the nest is important and can change depending on time of year.
“These nests can be gently moved to a new such as an orchard or garden before the
spring emergence to encourage local pollination,” Zawislak said. “They can be sheltered
in a shed for the winter, but they should not be placed in a heated environment or
they will overcome their dormancy too soon.”
Zawislak said protection from rain should be considered when placing the nest.
“Nesting blocks should face the morning sun, and be sheltered somewhat from the rain,”
he said, “either by adding an overhanging sloped roof to keep rain from soaking the
wood, or placing the blocks under the eaves of a barn, shed or house.”
When the time comes, the female bees will emerge and get to work. They’ll be looking
for potential houses, so keep their options open.
“Female bees will seek a suitable nesting site near the area where they have emerged,”
Zawislak said. “Once a cavity has been located, they will begin foraging nearby for
pollen and nectar with which they will provision their nest. Once the eggs have been
deposited, the bee will seal up the cavity. She may seek another nesting site to repeat
When prepping your garden, keep the future in mind.
“Increasing the number of suitable nesting habitats near your garden or orchard can
dramatically increase the native pollinator population in your area over a few years.”
Supporting solitary bees in Arkansas
Assistant Professor of Entomology for the University of Arkansas System Division of
Agriculture, Neelendra Joshi has set up solitary bee nests around Arkansas.
“I have put solitary bee nests or “bee hotels” in different locations in Arkansas,”
Joshi said. “In general, these bees spend most of their time in constructing and provisioning
their nest and we can help them by providing suitable nest substrates in farm landscapes.”
The importance of these bee hotels lies in their ability to encourage solitary bee
populations in the state.
“In long term, this strategy would help in conservation and propagation of tunnel
nesting solitary bees,” Joshi said. “In addition, these nests will help us in establishing
a baseline information of solitary bees in different ecosystems.”
For more information on encouraging native bees visit www.xerces.org or www.pollinator.org.
To learn about bee keeping in your county, contact your local Cooperative Extension
Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative
Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex,
gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital
or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and
is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
# # #
Media Contact: Ryan McGeeneyCommunication ServicesU of A System Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) firstname.lastname@example.org