The Bee Garden Project aims to highlight the importance of ‘functional biodiversity’ and draw attention to the role of non-honey bee pollinators in an urban context.
Solitary bees are important pollinators that ‘buzz-pollinate’ plants such as brinjal, tomato and chillies. They require dead wood, twigs, or exposed soil for nesting, and are thus constrained in the urban environment. ‘Bee hotels’ are a simple and accessible means of conservation action to help meet the dearth of nesting material. Bee hotels incorporated into edible home gardens could help increase harvest as vegetable and fruit plants provide excellent bee forage. This project will serve as an initiative for integrating pollinators into urban landscapes and for furthering citizen interest in pollinator conservation.
by Team PUSH, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) and Agasthyamalai Community-based Conservation Centre (ACCC)
Start Date: December 2021
Status Report & Updates:
After going through various ideas and options, the team has come up with a bee hotel that has three parts, each of which cater to different bee nesting requirements. The uppermost compartment has hollowed out twigs and cavities pre-made in wood. The middle compartment consists of bamboo segments. They have observed that bees like to make their own nesting tunnels in this material. The lower compartment is designed to be filled up with soil to provide space for the several soil-nesting bee species. The bee hotels are available in two variants. The lighter variant is best suited for more sheltered spaces (such as balcony or terrace). The heavier variant is better insulated from rain and can be placed in fully open settings (for example, a garden). After a bit of a delay in finding suitable material for the bee hotels, they are now ready.
Registrations for hosting the bee hotels were done in April and May, and bee hotels have reached interested participants by July. They will be expected to keep records through the seasons using an app and photos/video recordings.
The team has also been working on developing a phone-based (Android) app alongside. The app will be launched shortly and will allow users to record bee species and information on relevant fauna and surrounding landscape features. It also has a simple guide for identifying common bees that one might expect to see in the city.
A webinar to draw attention to solitary bees and introduce the idea of bee hotels and edible gardening was organized in February and saw a good turnout with enthusiastic participation from the audience.