Bee hotels buzzing

Posted on: 06 April 2017

Sadly one third of Ireland’s 97 wild bee species are threatened with extinction. These pollinators are facing changing and increasingly challenging risks including the expansion of corporate agriculture, new classes of insecticides, climate change and emerging viruses.

Professor in Botany, Jane Stout, from the School of Natural Sciences researches in the field of ecology, with an emphasis on human impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services which are fundamental aspects of our Natural Capital.  For 20 years, she has studied plant-pollinator ecology, and is Ireland’s leading pollination expert

She, along with Trinity graduate, Dr Una Fitzpatrick, led the development and publication of an All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015-2020. The Plan, lists 81 actions to be undertaken by 68 public and private bodies. It is now recognised internationally as an example of best-practice.

The bee hotels are one element of Trinity’s comprehensive campus pollinator plan which will be launched on 11 April.

Prof Jane Stout with one of the newly installed bee hotels

One way to encourage the nesting of wild bees is installing bee hotels. The bee hotels on campus are made from different sized bamboo stems and paper tubes where the bees can nest bundled together.  There are two bee hotels in the Provost’s Garden, two in the flat-iron area beside the rugby pitch and two in the botanic gardens in Darty. All of them face the morning sun.

“We hope that bees will colonise the hotels this Spring. Of the 77 solitary bee species in Ireland, 10 are cavity nesters and somost likely to use a bee hotel or nest box,” explained Professor Stout.

“We will be able to tell how many ‘customers’ the hotels will have by looking at the entrance to the individual tubes: if they are occupied and an egg has been laid along with a food supply of pollen, the tube will be sealed off by the bee. The leafcutter bees seal their tubes with chewed up leaves while mason bees use mud”.

“Solitary bees do not to live in big colonies. They are excellent pollinators and are harmless. Bumblebees nest on the surface of the ground or just underneath it, often in old mouse holes. ”

“As well as encouraging plenty of bee-friendly flowers, I would encourage people to make their own bee hotels in their garden. Creating new nesting habitats is simple, inexpensive and safe and great fun for kids” Professor Stout added.

For tips on how to create wild pollinator nesting habitats, please see here.


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