Do you know how important solitary bees are?
No neither did I, however in the UK alone there are 267 species of bees and over 90% are not social and do not live in colonies. These are called solitary bees.
(See https://www.growwilduk.com/content/about-solitary-bees for more information).
Solitary bees are easily overlooked but they are known to pollinate plants more efficiently than honeybees.
They provide an essential pollination service, pollinating our crops and ensuring that plant communities are healthy and productive. Without them mammals and birds would not have the seeds, berries or plants on which they depend: in fact, approximately one in three mouthfuls of food and drink require pollination.
Wild flowers provide essential resources of pollen and nectar for these busy workers – and ample nesting opportunities in their dry, hollow stems. Some such as the harebell carpenter bee are so dependent on a particular wild flower plant (in this case bell flowers) they cannot survive without it.
On the 21st March 2018 a Practical workshop was held at the University Estates building with the Student Union Conservation Society, and guest speakers FSC Preston Montford and University entomologist Keith Walters. During this workshop 25 individually numbered new Bee Hotels were constructed by the Students, all from off-cuts from other jobs, so waste materials were used rather than buying in new, and the participants learnt more about solitary bees from the experts!
The Estates Maintenance Service Manager, Arthur Broadhurst then arranged a field trip with Professor Keith Walters to confirm suitable habitats within pre-identified areas on the University land to site the Hotels.
On Wednesday 6th December 2018, despite the rainy conditions Arthur with, Daniel Berry, Laura Jones, Alex Gregory and Wren Sant (students) and I made up a working party that went out onto the Estate and installed the first batch of Bee hotels, which are plotted onto our Estate map. An interesting afternoon was had, Arthur, explained about our private water supply, after a bee hotel was installed close to one of the University’s’ boreholes and it was all executed without injury or incident despite the heavy sledgehammers…
Watch out for a further working party in the Spring to put up the remaining hotels. It is hoped that the hotels will provide study opportunities for students in the future.