Stem nesting

When deadheading flowers, leave stems about 18″ long; in other words,  don’t cut them down you the ground.  Many bees can use them for as nesting sites. They will lay an egg in the stem and then pack it with food, plugging it with grass or mud. Bees will also tunnel out stems like elderberry or, as in this case, Penstemon. Now, I know you are thinking,  “But I don’t want ugly dead sticks in my garden”. Plants, like this Delphinium, will grow up around last year’s stems, concealing them with foliage  and beautiful blooms.


Stem pith from bee tunneling, Penstemon ‘Husker red 


Plugged bamboo nests, Bee Research Lab


Delphinium stems left for stem nesting bees. New foliage and flowers grow up to conceal old stems.



About Julie Weisenhorn

U of MN Extension Horticulturist; Minnesota gardener; photographer; Linnaeus admirer.
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One Response to Stem nesting

  1. Kathy Johnson says:

    One thing to note is that the bee life cycle takes a full year. Year one: stems grow, year two, bees lay eggs, year three eggs hatch. The stems need to be kept in tact thru egg hatch the 3rd season.


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