You have probably read about it in the news: bee populations all around the world are in decline. One of the main causes is the limited availability of habitat due to the high rate of urbanization. To help the bee populations on a local level, the FFN Academy joined forces with the Green Office Utrecht and organized a workshop on how to build a bee and insect hotel.
The workshop started with a bee introduction on solitary bees by dr. Marie José Duchateau from the department of Environmental Biology from Utrecht University. She explained all about the life cycle of solitary bees and their highly important role as pollinators. Like honey bees, solitary bees pollinate flowers and crops for our own food production. Without these pollinators, a lot of fruits and vegetables would be lost. For example, did you know that almost all tomatoes we eat are pollinated by bees? Marie José continued by explaining that small-scale biotopes are essential for the survival of bees. Unlike honey bees, solitary bees do not live in hives but have solitary nesting sites (as indicated by their name). Solitary bees are not able to travel long distances, making it difficult for bees and insects too find suitable nesting sites and food in urban areas.
Knowing these species are declining, we cannot sit still and do nothing! Marie José explained that with just a little effort, people can help out bees and other insects. She told us about ‘bee and insect hotels’, which are constructions made to accommodate solitary bees and other insects such as ladybugs. Bee hotels are on sale everywhere now, but you can easily build your own accessible nesting sites for solitary bees and transform your backyard into a bee-friendly garden.
After the great lecture, it was time to build our very own bee hotel. The FFN Academy and Green Office provided the participants with all the equipment and materials they needed. With approval and support from Utrecht University, we were able to place a large bee hotel at the Uithof near the Botanical Gardens. Half of the workshop participants went outside to build a big bee hotel and thanks to everyone’s hard work it came out great. The bee hotel will stay for around three years and will hopefully be able to support lots of bees and other insects. Definitely have a look if you are curious to see how a real, big bee hotel looks like! The other half of the group remained inside and built smaller, portable bee hotels, which they were able to take home. These small hotels can easily be placed around homes or in gardens, preferable within 250 meters of a flower field.
If you read this and are inspired to make your own bee hotel, have a look online for building-tutorials. After making it, the only thing left is to place the small hotel outside and make sure that there are flowers around. If you have a garden or balcony, but do not want a bee hotel, another way to help is to plant as many flowers as possible. This not only brightens up your outside area, but provides all kinds of bees and insects with the food they need!