Following the article in The Observer on 7 August about the importance of our 200 odd solitary bees as pollinators, we’ve been contacted by a number of people asking for more information about how to make bee hotels (houses) and nests for bumblebees. There are a few websites with some good step by step guides. The Bee Guardian Foundation has details on how to build a bee house and a bumblebee box, though my understanding is that bumble bee boxes have a low success rate – better to leave a pile of leaves in the garden or try burying an upturned tea pot – the queen bee may go in the spout and make her nest in the pot. Conservation charity, Bug Life, also provides a blueprint for making bee nests and bee hotels. While the BBC’s Bee Part of It campaign shows you how to make a wood pile in your garden as a wildlife habitat.
A reader of the article, SteB1, also pointed out that many species of solitary bee need other types of nesting site other than bee hotels. Mining Bees, for example, often like sandy banks and exposed soil in which to make their underground nests. He also says; “The other thing to note, is that whilst called solitary bees, because they don’t have a complex multi-individual nest society. In some ways they are anything but solitary. They often nest very close together.”
For amazing photos of solitary bees, check out his flickr photos of Andrena fulva, (Tawning mining bee) and others.