The Bee Hotel: Encouraging Wildlife in our Garden

Having offered hospitality to a young swallow family earlier in the year, Marion and Zzdravko decided to extend their facilities to welcome bees. It turned out to be a very rewarding learning experience!

Honey bee Honey bee Photo: Marion Podolski

To encourage wildlife in our garden, we built what we thought would be a 'bee hotel'. As it turned out, more properly I should call it a bug hotel, with an annexe for bees. As we’ve expanded our range of garden plants this year, we’ve been visited by more bees. Over the long, dry summer, they especially seemed to enjoy drinking the water from the saucers of our large pots. To help, we added a special “bee pond” in a shallow dish with pebbles so they could climb in and out without drowning. It was popular not just with the bees, but also attracted some local toads come nightfall.

Bug hotel in Rastoke / Slunj. Photo: Marion Podolski

Wanting to help further, we thought to build a bee hotel. On a trip to Rastoke a couple of years ago, we were very taken with their Bug hotel (Hotel za kukce), beautifully rustic with a collection of natural materials.

Grand bee hotel at Threave. Photo: Marion Podolski

And then again, this summer in Scotland we saw the rather grander “Bee at Threave” hotel. They had also thoughtfully planted a wildflower meadow beside the hotel – the best hotels have restaurants, I guess. Armed with those ideas, back in Vrboska we collected some pine-cones, dead branches and old needles from our walks. A nice wooden box from Bauhaus provides the walls and backing, and a couple of spare roof tiles will keep the rain off. All it needs now is some chicken wire or similar to keep it all in.

Our bug hotel. Photo: Marion Podolski

Except this is not a suitable bee hotel! Most people would have read up on the subject before getting this far, but there you go, better late than never! What we have built is a bug hotel. It will be great for creatures like ladybirds and perhaps butterflies, earwigs, etc. But not bees.

Solitary bee (Osmia rufa). Photo: Marion Podolski

Solitary bees aka Mason bees (Osmia bicornis and the like), are different to the honey bees (Apis mellifera) that live in colonies and produce honey. The solitary female bees like to make a nest and lay their eggs in small tunnels. They lay the eggs for the next generation of females at the back, and eggs for the males towards the front. Between each egg they construct a mud wall – hence the nickname “mason” bee. The male bees, being smaller, hatch first and wait around at the entrance to the nest to mate with the females as they emerge.

Bee hotel logs. Photo: Marion Podolski

The preferred nesting sites are narrow tubes, closed at the back, such as reeds or holes in logs, rocks, etc. With our new understanding, we cut some dry logs, and drilled holes of various sizes in them. These should now be mounted somewhere they will catch the morning sun, as the bees like to be warm, but not roasted. Your solitary wasps, on the other hand, prefer shady nesting tunnels.

Different-sized holes drilled. Photo: Marion Podolski

Unfortunately our new-found knowledge of bees does not extend to recognising individual types when we see them. There are currently lots of bees at the mounds of ivy flowers along the local pathways, some of which will be honeybees, some bumblebees, and others must belong to the Osmia varieties, of which the most common hereabout is the Osmia bicornis/rufa. Any help on correct identification of the bees in my photos would be appreciated! This rather striking  larger flying bug that visited our courtyard last week (maybe 2.5cm long) turned out to be a male Mammoth wasp, Megascolia maculata. Females are larger and have yellow heads.

Mammoth wasp, Megascolia maculata (male). Photo: Marion Podolski

We’ll get these hotels installed on the courtyard walls, and hopefully will see some activity over the winter. Incidently, we now realise that our rough stone walls are actually a perfect nesting habitat in their own right!

Rough stone wall, the perfect bug habitat! Photo: Marion Podolski

© Marion Podolski 2017.

Sources:
Wikipedia: Insect hotels

Acknowledgement:

This article first appeared in Marion's inspired blog 'Go Hvar', which covers a delightful eclectic range of artistic and epicurean topics as well as items about the natural environment. We at Eco Hvar are very grateful for the permission to reproduce material from the blog. 

You are here: Home Nature Watch The Bee Hotel: Encouraging Wildlife in our Garden

Eco Environment News feeds

  • From power cuts to infrastructure failure, the impact of climate change on US cities will be huge – but many are already innovating to adapt

    Between record heat and rain, this summer’s weather patterns have indicated, once again, that the climate is changing.

    US cities, where more than 80% of the nation’s population lives, are disproportionately hit by these changes, not only because of their huge populations but because of their existing – often inadequate – infrastructure.

    Continue reading...

  • Conservation groups split on impact of move agreed at international wildlife summit

    South Africa has won permission to almost double the number of black rhinos that can be killed as trophies after arguing the money raised will support conservation of the critically endangered species.

    The decision was made at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) after receiving support from some African nations and opposition from others.

    Continue reading...

  • You sort your recycling, leave it to be collected – and then what? From councils burning the lot to foreign landfill sites overflowing with British rubbish, Oliver Franklin-Wallis reports on a global waste crisis

    An alarm sounds, the blockage is cleared, and the line at Green Recycling in Maldon, Essex, rumbles back into life. A momentous river of garbage rolls down the conveyor: cardboard boxes, splintered skirting board, plastic bottles, crisp packets, DVD cases, printer cartridges, countless newspapers, including this one. Odd bits of junk catch the eye, conjuring little vignettes: a single discarded glove. A crushed Tupperware container, the meal inside uneaten. A photograph of a smiling child on an adult’s shoulders. But they are gone in a moment. The line at Green Recycling handles up to 12 tonnes of waste an hour.

    “We produce 200 to 300 tonnes a day,” says Jamie Smith, Green Recycling’s general manager, above the din. We are standing three storeys up on the green health-and-safety gangway, looking down the line. On the tipping floor, an excavator is grabbing clawfuls of trash from heaps and piling it into a spinning drum, which spreads it evenly across the conveyor. Along the belt, human workers pick and channel what is valuable (bottles, cardboard, aluminium cans) into sorting chutes.

    Continue reading...

  • National Farmers’ Union says only farms in south-east England able to start harvest

    August’s wet weather has brought this year’s wheat harvest to a “shuddering halt”, the deputy president of the National Farmers’ Union has said.

    Guy Smith said farmers outside the south-east of England had been left unable start their harvest their crop because of heavy rainfall this month.

    Continue reading...

  • They destroy sweaters, carpets and even wall insulation – and their population has tripled in five years. But there are ways to quell these insatiable insects

    When Janine Christley moved into her new house, she thought buying woollen carpets would be the sustainable option. She had the stairs and two floors of her cottage carpeted, at a cost of thousands of pounds. Then the moths moved in. She first noticed them about four years ago, just a few at first. But then they started devouring the carpets, creating big bare patches. Gradually, Christley has had to rip them up and replace them with synthetic carpet. “I’ve still got woollen carpet in my room and the front room, but there are big holes where they’ve eaten it away,” she says. To a family of moths, it turns out, a wool-carpeted house is essentially an all-you-can-eat restaurant.

    “Of course, they’re into clothes as well,” she says. They have eaten woollen jackets and gorged on the bags of wool she keeps for felting projects – as well as the finished works themselves. She has avoided chemical controls, but clothes regularly go into the freezer in an attempt to kill the moths’ eggs. “I’m constantly checking where they might be,” says Christley. “I go into the wardrobe and shake all my clothes regularly because they like to be dark and undisturbed. I check under furniture, swat any I can find. I’m always jumping up to try to catch them; I see them flying around. I’m encouraging spiders in my house now; they’ve got lots of cobwebs and I’m trying to get them to catch the moths.” It has been frustrating – and expensive. “And it’s all been a waste of time.”

    Continue reading...

  • A beached fin whale being circled by sharks and eastern grey kangaroos in a snowstorm are among the standout images in the 2019 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year awards

    • The Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year 2019 is on at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney until 20 October 2019 and the South Australian Museum until 10 November

    The week in wildlife – in pictures

    Continue reading...

  • Giraffes, sharks, glass frogs - and the woolly mammoth - may get boosted protection at summit

    From giraffes to sharks, the world’s endangered species could gain better protection at an international wildlife conference.

    The triennial summit of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), that began on Saturday, will tackle disputes over the conservation of great beasts such as elephants and rhinos, as well as cracking down on the exploitation of unheralded but vital species such as sea cucumbers, which clean ocean floors.

    Continue reading...

  • With an international council now on the brink of declaring the species unsustainable – and Brexit looming – what is the future for one of the nation’s favourite meals?

    By 7.30am all the cod at Peterhead fish market had been sold, snapped up by competing buyers wearing thick fleeces, woolly hats and rubber boots against the chill of the vast indoor warehouse.

    A gaggle of middle-aged men clutching books of brightly coloured “tallies” followed the auctioneer alongside crates of glassy-eyed fish nestling in ice. With a curt nod or a swift hand gesture, the price was settled, tallies thrown down to indicate the fish’s new owner, and the group moved on. It took less than 10 minutes to dispose of the night’s catch.

    Continue reading...

  • Nation commemorates the once huge Okjokull glacier with plaque that warns action is needed to prevent climate change

    Iceland has marked its first-ever loss of a glacier to climate change as scientists warn that hundreds of other ice sheets on the subarctic island risk the same fate.

    As the world recently marked the warmest July ever on record, a bronze plaque was mounted on a bare rock in a ceremony on the barren terrain once covered by the Okjökull glacier in western Iceland.

    Continue reading...

  • The astronomer royal and risk specialist on cyber-attacks, pandemics, Brexit and life on Mars

    Martin Rees is a cosmologist and astrophysicist who has been the astronomer royal since1995. He is also a co-founder of theCentre for the Study of Existential Risk, Cambridge. His most recent book,Onthe Future: Prospects for Humanity, is published by Princeton.

    After Boris Johnson’s recent announcementof an increase in the number of special visas for scientists, Sir Andre Geim accused himof taking scientists “for fools”. Did you feel patronised by the announcement?
    I wouldn’t put it that way. Anything that makes it easier to get visas is welcome but won’t remove the serious downsides of Brexit.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds