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Zoo says build B&B for bees

Research student, Emily Tyack, at Paignton Zoo has found research to support the benefits of building hotels for bees. Whilst studying solitary bees, laying eggs in cavities, she created ‘bee hotels’ each with a range of materials and then studied to see if bees would nest.

According to Tyack’s findings, there are 250 species of solitary bee, emerging and nesting in different ways and different times. Some bees, blocked holes with mud (mason bees), whilst some carefully cut circles of leaf (leafcutter bees).

An Environmental Biology student at the University of Nottingham, Emily Tyack was carrying out a yearlong placement, with the Field Conservation and Research Department of Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust, the charity running Paignton Zoo, Living Coasts in Torquay and Newquay Zoo in Cornwall.

Speaking about her research, Emily stated, ‘The leafcutter bees block the cells around each egg in the hole using perfectly cut circles from rose leaves. It’s mesmerising to watch them come back and forth with bits of leaf half the size of themselves! You can happily watch them from quite close; they aren’t bothered by your presence.’

Adding, ‘I can conclude from this study that solitary bees will use artificial nest sites provided by humans and that by providing a range of materials and holes you will support the species of solitary bee in your garden.’

Emily Tyack gives further advice to garden conservationists, ‘We can all make a bee hotel for the garden. Include 20cm lengths of bamboo canes, either in a tube or tied into a bundle. Bamboo is good for all species as the holes vary in size naturally. Also include a cob brick (great fun to make, tutorials can be found online, children will love it) and a log drilled with various sized holes.

‘Make sure to place your hotel in a spot that gets lots of sun in the morning and is sheltered from the rain, and you should have happy little bees in your garden in no time!’

Bees are threatened by habitat loss, by providing artificial nesting sites, the British bee species can survive. For more information on Paignton Zoo, visit their website by clicking HERE.

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Paignton, Devon

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