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

  • Farmers must be incentivised to tackle decline in biodiversity, says environment secretary at launch of parliamentary soil body

    The UK is 30 to 40 years away from “the fundamental eradication of soil fertility” in parts of the country, the environment secretary Michael Gove has warned.

    “We have encouraged a type of farming which has damaged the earth,” Gove told the parliamentary launch of the Sustainable Soils Alliance (SSA). “Countries can withstand coups d’état, wars and conflict, even leaving the EU, but no country can withstand the loss of its soil and fertility.

    Continue reading...

  • Glyphosate is found in 60% of UK bread and environmentalists welcome a ban but industry warn of uproar among farmers if herbicide is phased out

    A pivotal EU vote this week could revoke the licence for the most widely used herbicide in human history, with fateful consequences for global agriculture and its regulation.

    Glyphosate is a weedkiller so pervasive that its residues were recently found in 45% of Europe’s topsoil – and in the urine of three quarters of Germans tested, at five times the legal limit for drinking water.

    Continue reading...

  • Photographer Tim Flach’s latest book Endangered, with text by zoologist Jonathan Baillie, offers a powerful visual record of threatened animals and ecosystems facing the harshest of challenges

    Tim Flach sees his Hasselblad H4D-60 camera as a means to its end: capturing the character and emotions of an animal. Until now his interest has been in the way humans shape animals, but in his new book, Endangered, he poses the question of what these animals, and their potential disappearance, mean to us.

    Twenty months of shooting and six months of assembling has resulted in a collection of more than 180 pictures. “In some cases we put up a black background in a zoo or a natural reserve, in others it meant being underwater with hippos or great white sharks.”

    Continue reading...

  • The 33 islands of Kiribati, a remote and low-lying nation in the Pacific Ocean, are under threat from climate change. But the islanders have not given up hope

    Kiribati is one of the most isolated countries in the world. As you fly in to the main island of South Tarawa, located less than 100 kms from the equator, a precariously thin strip of sand and green materialises out of the ocean.

    On one side, a narrow reef offers some protection to the inhabitants and their land – at low tide, at least. On the other side, a shallow lagoon reaches kilometres out to sea. The 33 islands of Kiribati – pronounced “Kiribass” – are extremely shallow; the highest point is just two metres above sea level. Looking out of the aeroplane window, there is no depth to the scene – sea dissolves seamlessly into sky, a paint palette of every blue

    Continue reading...

  • Vice-president Rosario Murillo calls global pact ‘the only instrument we have’ to address climate change as number of outsiders shrinks to two

    Nicaragua is set to join the Paris climate agreement, according to an official statement and comments from the vice-president, Rosario Murillo, on Monday, in a move that leaves the United States and Syria as the only countries outside the global pact.

    Nicaragua has already presented the relevant documents at the United Nations, Murillo, who is also first lady, said on local radio on Monday.

    Continue reading...

  • Plastic pollution, overfishing, global warming and increased acidification from burning fossil fuels means oceans are increasingly hostile to marine life

    If the outlook for marine life was already looking bleak – torrents of plastic that can suffocate and starve fish, overfishing, diverse forms of human pollution that create dead zones, the effects of global warming which is bleaching coral reefs and threatening coldwater species – another threat is quietly adding to the toxic soup.

    Ocean acidification is progressing rapidly around the world, new research has found, and its combination with the other threats to marine life is proving deadly. Many organisms that could withstand a certain amount of acidification are at risk of losing this adaptive ability owing to pollution from plastics, and the extra stress from global warming.

    Continue reading...

  • Exclusive: Freedom of information request reveals ‘disgraceful’ amount of taxpayers’ money used to battle ClientEarth over illegally poor air pollution plans

    The government spent £370,000 of taxpayers’ money unsuccessfully fighting court claims that its plans to tackle air pollution were illegally poor, a freedom of information request has revealed.

    The money was spent battling two actions brought by environmental lawyers ClientEarth and included more than £90,000 in costs paid to the group after it won on both occasions. Critics said the government’s expenditure was “disgraceful” and should have been spent on cutting pollution.

    Continue reading...

  • The idea that we will surrender our prized motors can look far-fetched. But as cities clamp down on vehicle use, technology is putting a utopian vision in reach

    If ours is an age in which no end of institutions and conventions are being disrupted, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of the most basic features of everyday life seems under serious threat. If you are fortunate enough to live in a house with a drive, look outside and you will probably see it: that four-wheeled metal box, which may well be equipped with every technological innovation imaginable, but now shows distinct signs of obsolescence.

    Related:The car has a chokehold on Britain. It’s time to free ourselves | George Monbiot

    Continue reading...

  • Scientists were expected to report that climate change is affecting air and water temperatures, precipitation, sea level and fish in New England’s largest estuary

    The Environmental Protection Agency kept three scientists from speaking at a Rhode Island event about a report that deals in part with climate change.

    The scientists were expected to discuss in Providence on Monday a report on the health of Narragansett Bay, New England’s largest estuary. The EPA did not explain exactly why the scientists were told not to.

    Continue reading...

  • British Beekeepers Association survey reveals worrying drop in honey yield, with 62% of beekeepers saying neonicotinoids are to blame

    Beekeepers have raised concerns over the future of honeybees as an annual survey showed a “steady decline” in the honey crop.

    The survey by the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) revealed beekeepers in England produced an average of 11.8kg (26 lb) of honey per hive this year, down 1kg on last year.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds