There are more than 250 species of solitary bees living in Britain, named solitary bees because they do not live in colonies like the honeybees and bumblebees do. Bees are responsible for pollinating around a third of all crops and solitary bees are the biggest contributor towards this.
Solitary bees are a non aggressive species, meaning they are safe to encourage into your garden without worrying about children or pets, they do not have a large store of honey to protect. The females will only sting if handled roughly or if stepped on and the males have no sting.
Solitary bee populations are facing massive decline. One of the biggest contributors to this decline is habitat loss. As farming has become more intensive more hedgerows have been lost, hedgerows which used to provide rich habitat for a number of species. They are also threatened by the use of pesticides and by less land given over to meadows and wildflowers. In parts of China pollination is having to be undertaken by hand, using paintbrushes, because there are simply not the bees to do the job.
We need to work quickly to reverse this decline because solitary bees are so essential for pollination. We need to design our gardens to be bee friendly, planting flowers they like such as geraniums, wallflowers, lavenders and thyme. We need to make consideration for biodiversity a starting point for developments rather than an afterthought. The Bee Brick is simple to install in any building and can simply be fitted and forgotten. They can also be placed as a stand alone unit in the garden or allotment, providing additional accommodation.
SOLITARY BEE WEEK
In 2018 Green&Blue, in partnership with the Environment and Sustainability Insitute at Exeter University, organised the first ever Solitary Bee Week, a week of action and education to raise awareness of solitary bees. Check out the Solitary Bee Week website to learn more about solitary bees and how you can get involved and pledge to earn your stripes.