Solitary bees. The least known and forgotton pollinators

 “We face a catastrophe in future years unless we act now. Wild pollinators need greater protection. They are the unsung heroes of the countryside, providing a critical link in the food chain for humans and doing the work for free that would otherwise cost British farmers £1.8bn to replace” Professor Simon Potts, University of Reading.

“Of course I know about bees, they produce honey.” I am still amazed that for most people the only bees they know are honey bees. Bumblebees may get a mention. But solitary bees?  Because quite simply most people are unaware they even exist. Without our 250+ species of wild bees in Britain, we would certainly be struggling for many of the foods that these bees pollinate. With the big UK decline of honey bees these little known pollinators need our help as much as we need theirs. Getting the message out there, enhancing our gardens to be ‘bee friendly’ and enticing wild bees to nest is more important than ever.

UK Honeybee shortage Reading University

Centre for Ecology & Hydrology Pollinators

I have been observing, studying, managing and rearing solitary bees for over 20 years. Besides wild bee talks, my award winning solitary and bumblebee nest boxes for gardens and orchards, I offer solitary bee management, especially Osmia bicornis, workshops when you can learn how to enhance their populations.  

These modern day versions of solitary bee nest boxes or ‘trap nests’, allows you to study cell construction, cell contents, solitary bee species, their  biology and that of their parasites, whilst in your back garden. Later in the season study them in more detail with a microscope whilst still inside their cells without disturbing them nor you in the comfort of your own home! No fiddling with splitting bamboo canes, no delicate cocoon extraction from acrylic tubes, no cardboard tubes to replace. Great for school children too!  All of which besides being enjoyable, can contribute to the knowledge pool and as important, education.

To buy and more details…..Orchard/allotment solitary bee nest box

To buy and more details……Solitary bee nest box.

and not to forget our bumblebees! To buy and more details…..Bumblebee Nest box

Why we may need solitary bee boxes in our gardens.

For more information about solitary bees visit BWARS and for bumblebees visit BBCT both of which are charities.

Refs.

Breeze TD, Vaissière BE, Bommarco R, Petanidou T, Seraphides N, et al. (2014) Agricultural Policies Exacerbate Honeybee Pollination Service Supply-Demand Mismatches Across Europe. PLoS ONE 9(1): e82996. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082996     Agricultural Policies Exacerbate honeybee pollination service-demand mismatches across Europe

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Vikki May 26, 2014 at 8:48 am

Hi, do you have any tips on how to remove a nest of leaf cutter bees please? We love them, but they are in a bad location…..at the very bottom or a large hole we have dug that is soon to be our wildlife pond. We have noticed them going in and out of a tunnel in the soil, for about 2 weeks.

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nurturingnature May 26, 2014 at 10:15 am

Hi Vikki, How awkward eh!! Please send me a photo of your pond site and if possible capture one of these bees so I can best advice you.Are you sure they are leaf cutters? Red mason bees are known to use holes in moist soil for their mud supply and mining bees use sandy soil to make their tunnels….. thanks, George

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