Out There: Bug hotels are the bees knees

This Bumble Bee and Peacock butterfly tag-team were captured feeding on Elecampane in Mark Cunningham's Matlock garden.
This Bumble Bee and Peacock butterfly tag-team were captured feeding on Elecampane in Mark Cunningham's Matlock garden.
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Throughout the summer months I have had great joy in watching bees and other insects feeding on nectar from flowers in my garden.

They’ve had plenty of choice as the garden is crammed full of flowering perennials.

To make sure the bees and other insects have somewhere to live I’ve set up a ‘bee hotel’ at the bottom of the garden.

I was inspired to do this when I visited the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall and saw the many ways in which they manage to encourage beneficial insects and wildlife.

The have ancient bee boles – recesses in walls where beekeepers can place skeps (woven, open bottomed baskets) where honeycombs can be formed.

My bee hotel is tiny in comparison and came from a garden centre. However, the insects seem to love it.

It is heartwarming to see these amazing creatures working away as they gather nectar. It is also good to know that I have helped them in a small way.

A holiday park near Lancaster has had a similar idea and has created thousands of tiny timber tunnels bored in hardwood logs. The logs have been placed in piles throughout the grounds. Workers at Moss Wood caravan park in Cockerham hope that the tunnels will attract ‘solitary bees’, a species said by nature bodies to be under serious threat.

Park owner, Henry Wild, said Moss Wood is now a safe haven where the harmless, non-aggressive insects can be helped to re-build their numbers. The tunnels provide perfect homes in which solitary bees can make cells of nests for their larvae.

Henry said: “We’re fortunate here to have a great diversity of wild flowers which produce an abundance of the nectar and pollen which bees collect.

“Moss Wood also has close proximity to streams and ditches which yield a ready supply of mud used by solitary bees as plaster to wall-up the cells in which they have left eggs and food. But perhaps most significantly, we long ago declared Moss Wood to be a no-go zone for pesticides and insecticides of the type often blamed for bee loss.”

Good work Henry!

Around 200 species of bee are known to exist so I think I’ll have a go at expanding my own bee hotel.