In Bristol & Avon, 75% of bees historically present in the region have vanished. The South West is vitally important for the British bee population due to its diverse range of habitats and the local climate. However, there is growing evidence to show that bees are now thriving in cities and that the city of Bristol is now home to a greater variety of species and a stronger bee population. What has Bristol done to attract more bees?
For bees to thrive, they need to be able to access plants rich in nectar and pollen. In Bristol urban meadows have been planted with flowers to attract bees as well as providing shelter and places to nest. Urban meadows range from the verges of the M32 to over 30 wildflower meadows planted with native UK plants throughout the city in places such as Highridge Common and Ashton Court. Research shows that native plants are 4 times more likely to attract native species of bees with examples of British bee-friendly plants including Bluebells, Foxgloves, Comfrey, Clover and Hellebores.
Providing Urban Homes For Bees
Bee hotels are places for solitary bees to nest where they lay their eggs in small holes, closing the entrance by creating a mud door. Combined with bee-friendly planting, placing a bee hotel in an urban garden along with a source of water will attract more bees. However, bee hotels do not need to be limited to private gardens. In Clifton Village, bee hotel planters have been introduced in the village centre. These bee hotels look beautiful to both residents and bees as they are packed full of colourful flowers but they also provide a safe and attractive place for bees to nest. Moreover, solitary bees are less likely to sting so there is not an increased risk to the public of having bee hotels in public places.
Hives For Honey Bees
Honey bees nest in beehives and urban beekeeping is on the rise in the UK with membership of the British Beekeepers Association rising from 8,000 in 2008 to 24,000 members in 2017. It is not necessary to have a large space to be able to provide a home for honey bees. Beehives can be placed in a small space in a garden or allotment which is quiet, sheltered and sunny spot and can even be placed on a roof. In fact, Bristol University’s green roof is home to a beehive which is also used for research into urban bees.
Although the bee population in Bristol & Avon is in decline, the city of Bristol can offer attractive places for bees to live. Urban meadows can be used to provide pollen and nectar for bees with bee hotels and hives placed throughout the city, even on the top of buildings, provide places for bees to nest.