To encourage as many species of bee as possible to use your Wildlife Garden there are quite a few ingredients to get right. Understanding the ecology of the large variety of bee species enables you to make sensible gardening decisions. BUT there are over 250 species of bee in Britain, so you are never going to get them all! You can still, however, achieve an amazing variety in a medium-sized urban garden.
Since 1999 David gradually introduced more opportunities for bee species to breed and thrive – and has devoted a lot of time to observing, recording and assessing the success of different actions. You can see the observations in the spreadsheet of invertebrate records.
The ‘Trellick Bee Tower’ was constructed in 2010 to help Community Service Volunteers (CSV) to launch their annual “Action Earth” programme. David suggested a tower block of flats for solitary bees – a plan that was overdue for the garden – and we came up with the notion of making it a replica of an actual tower block in London. The Trellick Tower is one of the iconic tower blocks of London – and David was happy with this idea as it was relatively easy to modify the design to cater for bees and their holes! The tower comprises blocks of standard soft wood – untreated – sawn into convenient blocks with the correct proportions to imitate the sections of the Notting Hill tower. These are stacked to form the floors with the balconies represented by lengths of scaffolding plank – the weight of these help to hold the blocks in place. There are no screws or bolts in the structure – individual ‘apartments’ can be removed for display/teaching or replaced when needed. The right hand vertical in the flats is a thick, sturdy piece of timber that had beena round at Roots for a while – in the Wildlife Garden this has been sunk into the ground – and the black horizontal bands you can see along the ‘balconies’ of the scaffolding planks are nylon straps that help bind the structure together. The lift shaft section of the replica is a tall, hollow box. Holes are drilled in the front of this box in the same pattern as the lift shaft windows and inside the box are translucent tubes. By opening the side panel it is possible to watch solitary bees enter their tubes to deposit food, lay their eggs and seal up the nest. The holes drilled in the blocks were made using a ‘full set’ of bits – ie there are holes in three main size groups – around 2mm; from 4-6mm and from 8-10mm. This gives an ample size range for the variety of bee species to be expected.
Left and Right: the “Architect’s launch” at the Trellick Tower with children from Middle Row Primary School, Mayor of Westminster (for Trellick Tower), CSV who sponsored the construction and, of course, the ‘architects’ David and Martha.