Recently, the U.K. city of Brighton & Hove made news when it announced that all new buildings more than five meters high must include some form of housing for solitary bees. Similar policies have been put into place in Dorset and Cornwall, and more municipalities are considering adding protection for solitary bees to their building guidelines. Until I read the news story, I had no idea that solitary bees were even a thing.
I have learned that solitary bees are lone bees who do not belong to a colony, though they do often nest fairly close to one another. These bee species lack a queen, do not produce honey, and have a fairly weak sting. However, they are nonetheless crucial to our planet’s health and our survival. It used to be believed that honey bees were the main supporters of crop pollination, but scientists have now learned that solitary bee species are equally responsible for pollination. Because solitary bees don’t have a hive or honey to defend, they are mostly non-aggressive, making them an ideal addition to residential buildings and gardens.
Green & Blue is a U.K.-based company that has made it really easy for homeowners, gardeners, and builders to incorporate solitary bee-friendly habitats into their spaces. The company sells bee habitats in the form of bricks, blocks, incorporated into planters and posts, and even single bee nests – called Bee Cells – making it possible for everyone to find space for at least a couple of the little habitats. They also sell bee gift kits which can include wildflower seed bombs, bee cells, and even a kid-friendly book about bees.