Edmonton land trust wants more backyard bee hotels

Original article from CBC News

Conservationists want as many people as possible to help build up pollinator population

By CBC News

Aug. 13, 2015 at 6:52 a.m.

Conservationists want as many Edmontonians as possible to build bee hotels.

Conservationists want as many Edmontonians as possible to build bee hotels.

Conservationists in Edmonton hope the secret life of bees won't be so secret anymore.

They want as many people as possible to build bee hotels, to help increase the number of pollinators.

The backyard hotels are much like birdhouses for bees.

The Edmonton and Area Land Trust recently started the do-it-yourself project.

Anything with narrow tunnels will work, including bamboo stalks, small plastic tubes, even drill holes in blocks of wood.

Conservation biologist Rebecca Ellis wants to see more of them in the city.

The hotels are designed for solitary bees, not the ones that live in hives and produce honey. Most of these loner bees don't have stingers.

They're important pollinators, Ellis said, and there has been gradual fall in their numbers worldwide.

"Bees and pollinators in general are declining worldwide," she said. "And that's a problem, because we depend on them ... because (they) pollinate most of the plants that we need for food.

"So when those are declining, that puts our food security at risk. By installing these bee hotels, we're providing an extra area for bees to nest."

Urban beekeeper Michael Hamilton said the hotels can take less than 30 minutes to make.

There are plenty of plans and instructions online.

"We've really removed a lot of the habitat and foraging area for these bees," he said, "and they really do provide a valuable service to our food supply and to our flowers."

He said it may take the bees a while to find the hotels. But once they do, they crawl inside to nest and lay eggs for the winter.

He hopes more people will put out the welcome mat and help boost the city's bee population.