Nurturing Nature and solitary bees at Kew Gardens

September 27, 2016

in A selection of my garden wildlife videos, Gardening For Wildlife, My Recommendations, Solitary Bee Observation Box

A great day out at the Hive at Kew Gardens

If you get the chance to visit the splendid gardens at Kew this year and possibly next year, you must visit the award winning Hive. I was n’t sure what to expect as I approached this huge gleaming ‘see through’ metal hive on stilts! It’s when I went underneath it and put a lolly ice stick into my mouth, placed it inside a metal tube and felt the vibrations and heard bee noises via my cheekbones, that I started to wonder and appreciate the thought that had gone into this wonderfully artistic structure, designed by UK based artist Wolfgang Buttress. Going onto the next level was rather magical, with hundreds of LED lights that glow and fade in time with music by BE, and 40,000 honeybees humming and buzzing. A multi-sensory experience for sure! Well worth a visit, especially now as the nights draw in allowing you to appreciate the LEDs.

Talking of buzzes I was intrigued to see how the solitary bee nest boxes were doing at Kew. I was lucky to be in the company of Dr. Hauke Kocke, a Kew bumblebee researcher, who showed myself and Prof. Dave Goulson author of “A Sting in the Tale” fame around the splendid gardens.

Red Mason and leafcutter bee nesting together!

Red Mason and leafcutter bee nesting together!

I was very pleased the Nurturing Nature bee nest boxes had been used by Red Mason and Leafcutters bees. However, the Reds will emerge well before the leafcutters and may chew their way through when they exit. They will be removed and stored away safely till next summer I was assured!

“All my articles and videos, available free, are funded by my  teaching and sales of award winning bumblebee nest boxessolitary bee boxes,  and wormeries. Please help by spreading the word and forwarding this link to your friends and colleagues.  Thank you” George Pilkington

For lunch we met up with Prof. Phil Stevenson, senior Research leader, Chemical Ecology at Kew, in the magnificent Orangery  completed in 1761, now a restaurant serving tasty and fresh seasonal foods. Somehow or other the conversation veered towards….. wild bees! How strange! The conversation included research and not being actively involved in this academic scientific area, I informed them of a new book, edited by Prof. Jill Atkins and Barry Atkins, which looks at aspects of bee decline that many people have not thought about. The book, The Business of Bees I will write about at in another article shortly.

Myself, Hauke and Dave next to the Hive at Kew Gardens

Myself, Hauke and Dave next to the Hive at Kew Gardens

The World’s most famous gardens, Kew Gardens, with over 100 world class attractions, inspirational gardens, landscapes, buildings and glasshouses, is without doubt a must visit for gardeners. Behind the scenes they employ specialist researchers, with many different science departments. It has to be worth a days visit. You will be so glad you did! It is so much more than a garden! It will undoubtedly give you a buzz!


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Marian September 27, 2016 at 12:47 pm

Hi. George, As you know I have success every year with many leaf cutter bees and have over the years had leaf cutters in the same chamber as mason bees. Around the end of December, carefully remove the leaf cutters and place in an unoccupied chamber. They never know of the disturbance and emerge happily in the spring !!
Do try and keep in the same order, as you know it’s the males that emerge first.
Bye for now


nurturingnature September 27, 2016 at 9:51 pm

Hi Marian, Nice of you to tell people about this. They are still larvae and need to be handled with more care than the Reds. Thanks for sharing, George


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