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Keep your kids ‘buzzy’ this half-term – build a bee hotel!
6:30am Monday 4th June 2012 in Bees
It is no secret that us Brits needs to look after our bees because they play an essential part in the life cycle of many crops and flowers. So for parents and children everywhere, here is an ideal way to have fun this half-term and help the environment at the same time.
Building a bee hotel is straightforward and only requires a few simple tools that many people keep in their garden shed.
Bee hotels are ideal for solitary bees as they provide a place for females to nest and lay their eggs. Although solitary bees don’t produce honey, they are excellent pollinators. Bees pollinate flowering plants by moving pollen from the male part of one flower (stamen) to the female part (stigma) of another as they feed. Although they do this unwittingly this activity has the important outcome of fertilising the female part of the flower – which produces seeds that grow into new plants.
Dr Mark Goddard from the University of Leeds’ Faculty of Biological Sciences, said: “Bees are incredibly valuable to our ecosystems. We need to educate our children about how important it is to encourage bees in our gardens. Helping them build a bee hotel is the perfect way to do this, while having fun in the half-term!”
If you’re worried that building a bee hotel will encourage a swarm of bees to take up residence in your garden – don’t be. The species of bees that utilise bee hotels have a solitary lifestyle, i.e. the females will typically inhabit their own individual nest and if left undisturbed they will not bother people.
As well as making a bee hotel, there are lots of other ways to encourage bees to live in your garden. Leaving a patch of grass to grow longer will encourage clover, which bees really love. Planting a few ‘bee-friendly’ flowers such as lavender is also a great activity to do with your kids in half-term.
If you want to make a bee hotel, you’ll need a wood saw, hammer and a few nails. It is important children are supervised at all times and that an adult handles these tools when needed.
Bee- friendly gardening tips: - Bees love to nest in logs, crumbling walls and woody undergrowth.
Resist the urge to clear away rotting wood, or to fix up the old garden wall. Create a habitat pile or build a bee hotel.
- Bees love longer grass Consider leaving just part of your lawn an inch or two longer to encourage bees. You can always cut the rest so your neighbours still know you care.
- Plant bee friendly flowers Avoid garden-centre annuals or double flowers which are often sterile and instead opt for flowers loaded with nectar such as lavender or fuchsias. Not only will you be doing your bit for bees, you’ll also be saving yourself a fortune.
- Don’t be over keen on your weeding – Dandelions, clovers and forget-me-knots are great for bees – a great excuse to put your feet up!
Bee friendly flowers 1. Lavender 2. Buddleja 3. Comfrey 4. Fuchsia 5. Hebe Flowers which offer little reward to pollinators 1. Pansies 2. Begonias 3. Busy Lizzies 4. Petunias 5. Hybrid tea roses