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

  • Exclusive: Thinning indicates profound impact of humans and could affect satellites and GPS

    Humanity’s enormous emissions of greenhouse gases are shrinking the stratosphere, a new study has revealed.

    The thickness of the atmospheric layer has contracted by 400 metres since the 1980s, the researchers found, and will thin by about another kilometre by 2080 without major cuts in emissions. The changes have the potential to affect satellite operations, the GPS navigation system and radio communications.

    Continue reading...

  • DuPont and Daikin, manufacturers of ‘short chain’ PFAS, did not inform regulator about the FDA negative results of tests on animals

    Chemical giants DuPont and Daikin knew the dangers of a PFAS compound widely used in food packaging since 2010, but hid them from the public and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), company studies obtained by the Guardian reveal.

    The chemicals, called 6:2 FTOH, are now linked to a range of serious health issues, and Americans are still being exposed to them in greaseproof pizza boxes, carryout containers, fast-food wrappers, and paperboard packaging.

    Continue reading...

  • The New River Gorge in West Virginia offers stunning views, rock climbing and rafting but some worry it is unprepared for an influx of visitors

    The New River has spent millions of years carving a bucolic gorge in West Virginia. It is now home to one of the most biodiverse forests on the continent. And while humans have tracked prey along its jagged cliffs for thousands of years, now most people come to the gorge to find adventure.

    Related:How to plan your 2021 trip to a US national park

    Continue reading...

  • Great Eastern Brood set to emerge in the last two weeks of May and into early June, with hordes of bugs to push up from underground

    Brood X, otherwise known as the great cicada hatching of 2021, is drawing closer as soil temperatures in some parts of America move closer to 64F (18C) – the trigger, according to scientists, for trillions of the insects to push up to the surface and into the trees to mate.

    Related:If we want to save the planet, the future of food is insects

    Continue reading...

  • Nearly 59m hectares of forests have regrown since 2000, showing that regeneration in some places is paying off

    An area of forest the size of France has regrown around the world over the past 20 years, showing that regeneration in some places is paying off, a new analysis has found.

    Nearly 59m hectares of forests have regrown since 2000, the research found, providing the potential to soak up and store 5.9 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide – more than the annual emissions of the entire US.

    Continue reading...

  • For miles around Walleys Quarry in Silverdale, people have reported waking up in the night struggling to breathe

    It may have been labelled the country’s smelliest village but it is much more than a bad stench from the local landfill making life miserable for the residents of Silverdale in Staffordshire, who have now started crowdfunding for potential legal action against the site.

    For miles around Walleys Quarry landfill near Newcastle-under-Lyme, people have reported waking up in the middle of the night struggling to breathe, with itchy eyes and sore throats. Those with asthma have had their medication increased, and some have reported nosebleeds.

    Continue reading...

  • Addressing the climate crisis will be the greatest undertaking in the history of humankind. We have to give it all we have

    Joe Biden wants to cut US emissions in half from their 2005 levels. However, since emissions have been slowly declining since then, this amounts to only a 37% drop from 2020 levels.

    That, in a nutshell, is the issue. Our leaders are adhering to a template that doesn’t meet the urgency of the moment. The US is not even the world’s largest emitter any more, and China – the biggest polluter – seeks to build more coal-fired power plants, failing to reach carbon neutrality until 2060. Unfortunately, that is a perfect illustration of just how disconnected we are from the gravity of the situation.

    Continue reading...

  • Licences given to arms firm Lockheed Martin said to go against government’s stance on exploiting seabed

    Deep-sea mining exploration licences granted by the British government are “riddled with inaccuracies”, and could even be unlawful, according to Greenpeace and Blue Marine Foundation, a conservation charity.

    The licences, granted a decade ago to UK Seabed Resources, a subsidiary of the US arms multinational Lockheed Martin, have only recently been disclosed by the company.

    Continue reading...

  • Sandy, Bedfordshire: The sedge warblers want to be seen and heard, but the grasshopper warbler cannot be pinned down

    A great tit has crowned the lime trees outside our house for three months or more, with its steady, seesaw song, rendered mnemonically and memorably as “tea-cher, tea-cher”. Over that period the bird has become – to some ears at least – a bare-branched bore.

    In the unfurling of May, its song became more sporadic – but in addition, a new voice had arrived, one that was even more repetitive, yet anything but monotonous. Obsessed and addicted, I hurried down to the riverside meadow, lured to listen for the eighth time within a fortnight.

    Continue reading...

  • They are benevolent vegetarian gods. They watch over, through shielded eyes,the very few animals that have a fringe.

    William Topaz McGonagall, the “worst poet in the history of the English language”, is responsible for some of my mother’s favourite words in the world to say. She delivers them in a decent-enough Scottish accent, and she does so whenever the opportunity presents itself: “On yonder hill there stood a coo / It’s no’ there noo / It must’a shif’ted”. When I hear this rhyme I picture a Scottish highland cow, its coat waving in the icy flaff.

    McGonagall, who has a certain genius for coos, unfortunately also felt moved to capture in rhyme disasters, “calamities” and freak accidents. He chose to pay tribute to the people who died in the 1879 Tay Bridge disaster thus:

    Beautiful railway bridge of the silv’ry Tay
    Alas! I am very sorry to say
    That ninety lives have been taken away
    On the last sabbath day of 1879
    Which will be remember’d for a very long time.”

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds