Yes you read correctly. Half an hour to help solve a housing crisis. Not a human one, admittedly, but one that’s very definitely in our interests. As I wrote in my blog a fortnight ago – every third mouthful of our food depends on bees. And bees are in trouble.
So, in the name of nature conservation, this afternoon I took an old plastic chair out into the allotment and spent a quiet ten minutes sat in the sunshine. I counted bees for the Great British Bee Count. Carder bees, red-tailed bumblebees, honeybees, white-tailed bumblebees and garden bumblebees swarmed contentedly over the phacelia self-sown from last year’s green manure.
Looking at the Bee Count website, you realise that extinction isn’t just rhinos and pandas in far-away lands, it’s happening here and now, under our noses. We’ve already lost three bee species and there are several more not far behind.
There are lots of reasons bees are in trouble; loss of habitat is one of the main causes for their decline. I was amazed how many bees there were on the phacelia – for other ideas on bee friendly plants, have a look at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Perfect for Pollinators list. But of course, habitat means food as well as shelter, so flowers are just part of the story…
How to make a bee hotel (30 minutes)
1. Get a plank of untreated timber, at least 80cm long. From it, cut two pieces of wood 25cm long, and two more at 15cm long
2. Screw the two long pieces together, then screw the short pieces together too, to make a box shape
3. Trim a bundle of bamboo canes to identical lengths so they’ll fit inside the box. I put two screws into an old bit of scrap timber to make an easy measure when I was cutting. Sharp secateurs are best for this.
4. Pack the bamboo into the box – use a wooden mallet to wedge in the last pieces, so they all hold in place, then tamp down
5. then cut ends of the bamboo to make them all nice and even
6. Hang your creation on a sunny wall or fence.