Solitary bees are getting some amazing support from bee enthusiasts in England! Two regional communities have built massive world-record-breaking bee houses designed for their local solitary bees.
The United Kingdom has 250 species of solitary bees including mason bees (similar to our resin bees) and leafcutter bee species. Just like the better known social honeybees, these vital solitary bee species are threatened by shortages of food and nesting sites.
In 2011 volunteers helped the London Wildlife Trust and architecture company Make: Good build an immense solitary bee house in Barking, east London. Constructed from more than 20,000 pieces of bamboo and 200 logs, it measured a world-record 16.5 sq m! The volunteers spent three weeks cutting, sawing and drilling into the wood to create this masterpiece:
(Note: Both of these videos seem to have little or no sound tracks but they show some great footage of the bee houses and the construction processes.)
The previous world record was set by the Kent Wildlife Trust and volunteers in 2010 when they built a solitary bee house that covered an area of nearly 12 sq m:
Both bee houses would have provided enough narrow holes for the nests of thousands of mason and leafcutter bees:
-- English mason bees are similar to our resin bees. They nest inside narrow holes. Each female lays her eggs in a series of cells in the cavity and then seals the entrance with mud.
-- English leafcutter bees are very much like our Australian leafcutter bees. They cut neat circles or ovals from soft leaves and use this material to build individual cells inside narrow cavities. It is a fascinating sight to see a leafcutter bee flying back to her nest carrying a leaf piece held underneath her body by her legs.
Congratulations to both groups for their amazing constructions!
More details about these world-record-breaking bee houses can be found here: