Back in August 2017 an email dropped into our mailbox inviting us to an open day at a local nature reserve. Ian Barrie, the chair of the Friends of Eardington Nature Reserve (FNER) had seen our stall at Bridgnorth Handmade Market and was suitably impressed enough with our handmade bee hotels and bug houses that he wanted to offer the invitation. We gladly accepted and added it to our growing list of events.
Ian was in the process of applying for funding to create a solitary bee village at the reserve and, as well as attending the open day, he asked us if we could build 12 bee hotels to add to the mix. We’d only starting building bug houses a couple of months earlier and were dead chuffed to be asked to be part of the creation of an actual bee village!
A few weeks later, the funding was in place and we got to work… under the watchful eye of our little friend.
The bee hotel frames were built from recycled hardwood off-cuts (supplied by Ian) and were filled with blocks of drilled hard wood and bamboo.
We delivered the bee hotels soon after and over the next couple of months, we got regular updates from Ian, and as springtime slowly started to appear we began looking forward to seeing our bee hotels in position.
On June 3, 2018 we turned up at ENR with our stall and travelling bug house building workshop and were absolutely in awe of the work that had taken place to create a vibrant bee village, full of many different species including the Plasterer bee, Ivy Bee, Red Mason bee and Ashley Mining bee
There were mounds created specifically for burrowing bees, bee posts, recycled washing machine drums, and our very own bee hotels – each one sitting, pride of place, on their own fence post.
It was brilliant to see that many of them were being used by the solitary bees at the reserve. You can tell when you have Red Mason bees nesting in your bee hotel when the holes are sealed with mud.
The female bee packs pollen (and a little nectar) into cells and lays an egg on top of this food pile. She then creates a mud wall to seal the chamber and moves on to the next one until the whole tube is full and, as you can see from the pictures, the bees at the reserve have been busy!
This was enough to make our day at ENR a brilliant one… but as the day went on, things just kept getting better.
It was great to have conversations with people who were really interested (and very knowledgeable) about wildlife in general and specifically solitary bees. And it was particularly pleasing to see the amount of children who wanted to learn more.
This was the second workshop that we’d run (you can read about the first one here ) and it was brilliant to see everyone getting involved in building bug houses to take home, and some to leave to create ENR’s very own community bug hotel.
Everyone was having such a good time, we couldn’t help but add our own little creations too…
If you’d like us to come along and run a workshop at your event, please get in touch – we’d love to share our knowledge and encourage more people to learn about the wonderful world of bugs.