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Home > Gardening News >

University of Sussex launches 'The Big Bee Hotel Experiment'


Scientists at the University of Sussex have launched a new experiment that will get bee lovers across the country buzzing.

As part of ‘The Big Bee Hotel Experiment’, the University is calling on volunteers across the country who have a bee hotel or are willing to make or buy one, to get involved in the project to help improve our understanding of bees and their favoured habitats.

Volunteers will need to sign up and send a photograph of their bee hotel entrance once a month throughout spring and summer.

The Sussex scientists will then be able to record how many holes have been occupied, and by which type of bee, based on the substance that the bees use to block the holes. For example, red mason bees use clay, whereas blue mason bees use plant resin. The findings will help to make bee hotels more effective.

A bee hotel is the insect equivalent of a birdhouse providing shelter and nesting sites for solitary bee species including mason bees, leafcutter bees and yellow-faced bees. 250 out of the 270 species of bees in the UK are solitary and do not live in colonies like bumblebees or honeybees.

Solitary bees are incredibly important pollinators, and the project aims to better understand which bee hotels work best, helping to inform how they should be made in future to help support conservation efforts.

The University of Sussex’s Professor Dave Goulson, who is leading the project, said:

“This is a fun project suitable for anyone – including children – who have access to an outside space and an interest in encouraging wildlife. If we can get hundreds of volunteers to take part, we will be able to work out how to make bee hotels more effective, and so help support our pollinators! Please join us!”

For those looking to take part, bee hotels can be bought or easily made at home. Professor Goulson suggests that this can be as simple as drilling varying-sized holes into a block of wood to encourage species to nest. Bee hotels can also be made from old tin cans or pieces of drainpipe filled with hollow plant stems, such as bamboo or Leycesteria.

Running from March to September, the project is a collaboration between The Buzz Club, a University of Sussex science club, and The Wildlife Community, a company which develops wildlife habitat products to enhance biodiversity.

Mark Pitman, Managing Director of The Wildlife Community said:

"We're delighted to be part of this nationwide experiment with The Buzz Club. We design and manufacture several bee hotels and the data coming from this collaboration will help us to continually improve our designs to make them even more effective."

The project is free to enter. Participants can register the details of their hotel on The Buzz Club website. Click here.

Everyone who registers will also have the option to be entered into a raffle to win a £250 voucher donated by The Wildlife Community.

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This story was published on: 22/03/2024

Image attribution: Wildlife World Press

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