The Birth of a Bee Hotel

by Three Hagges Wood Meadow in Bee Hotel, Community, Community Events, Insects, Pollinators 0

so many of our followers on Twitter have encouraged and supported us during the construction of the Bee Hotel at Three Hagges Wood Meadow, I would like to dedicate this blog to all of them. But most of all, I would like to dedicate it to the accomplished young ecologist Ryan Clark, @RyanClarkNature, who was there at the beginning, guiding me as to the bees’ special needs, inspiring me to greater things, and giving me hope for the future of all our conservation efforts.  If you’re reading this and ever get the chance to employ him, I hope you will cherish his considerable talents to the full.

The Bee Hotel will provide a home – we hope – for all that group of lesser known pollinators, the solitary bees. Their hardworking nature is reflected perhaps in their common names, the mason, mining, leafcutting and wool carder bees. The building of it was the work of many hands and offered the opportunity for education and involvement of our community of Friends and volunteers, and local businesses – Metal Mick Brown, of MDB Associates, the blacksmith and superstructure supremo, and Lindum Turf, who donated the material for the crowning turf roof. We have especially to thank Escrick Park Estate – the source of materials and labour, Bob and Tom, and the generous continued support of the wood-meadow project. Thank you Charlie and thank you Ros, Project Director, Hagge Woods Trust.

So here it is, step-by step:

A the bee hotel builders yeard IMG_2729SF

Above: The fruits of the builders’ yard at Escrick Park Estate, during which gathering, I suffered the first of many insults received in the course of construction. Apparently, according to Bob, I have the sharp eyes of an outhouse rat. (He didn’t say outhouse!)

B truck load IMG_2724SF

 

Above: The truck load of materials ready for transport to site. Driven and loaded by Bob.

D laying the foundations DSC_2187SF

 

Above: Ryan, Nicola and Caroline begin the initial layout of the hotel, on a bee of pallets, with materials having a range of different sizes of perforations to suit different species of solitary bee.

C foundations with Ryan DSC_2188SF

 

Above: Larger gaps in the structure are filled with cut bamboo canes; the bees will treat these hollow canes as their room in which they will make a nest for their young.

C 1 caro connor and jessie DSC_2194SF

Above: Connor, Jessie and Caroline inspecting progress. We used floral foam – the green material, to fill the awkward gaps.

C 2 Phase 1 complete DSC_2195SF

Above: the completion of Phase One illustrating the range of materials used.

 

Phase Two: Installation of roof support structure

E 1 bee hotel 1

The cunning plan in outline was to create a curvilinear roof structure, backfilled with rubble and covered with topsoil. The structure will provide shelter for the body of the hotel and support the turf roof, with some 28 species of meadow flower. The aim is also that the mound will merge seamlessly with the surrounding meadow, and allow observation from the top across the face of the hotel. Whilst, of course, since I am a hedonist at heart, also allowing the observer to lie supine among the meadow flowers.

E 2 Adjust to fit IMG_2947SF

Above: Metal Mick and crew install the supporting structure, square section aluminium frame, threaded steel rods as cross supports.

E 3 thr restraining bar IMG_2944SF

Above: Once satisfied with placement, both ends of frame were set into trenches and secured with long metal pegs to avoid flexing of the frame under the weight of rubble and topsoil to follow.

F Bob backfilling from digger IMG_2954SF

Above: I supervise Bob (!) in the gentle introduction of rubble backfill. It will ensure good drainage to the rear of the structure and form the bulk of the intended mound.

G tom the diger driver IMG_2958SF

Above: Tom, the inscrutable digger operative.

H Testing the load bearing capacity IMG_2960SF

Above: The moment at which I endure a second insult. This is what Bob called ‘testing the weight-bearing capacity.

I just add topsoil IMG_2964SF

Above: the addition of topsoil to form the mound.

J ready to reciev roof IMG_2974SF

Above: Completion of Phase Two. The topsoil will form the rooting medium for the turf roof.

 

Phase Three: installation of the turf roof

With input from our volunteers, and the team from Lindum turf, we laid the crowning glory of the bee hotel, the turf roof.

 

The Three Hagges Wood, near Escrick, York, has a bee hotel to encourage pollenation. The hotel has a new roof of turf. pic mike cowling feb 26 2016

The lifting of the first turf into place by John and the Lindum Turf team. Photo:  Mike Cowling February 26 2016.

 

The Three Hagges Wood, near Escrick, York, has a bee hotel to encourage pollenation. The hotel has a new roof of turf. pic mike cowling feb 26 2016

Rolling out the turf, meadow mix comprising 28 species of meadow flower seeded into recycled carpet.  Photo: Mike Cowling.

 

The Three Hagges Wood, near Escrick, York, has a bee hotel to encourage pollenation. The hotel has a new roof of turf. pic mike cowling feb 26 2016

The turf is laid to overlap and disguise the meat support frame. Photo: Mike Cowling.

 

The Three Hagges Wood, near Escrick, York, has a bee hotel to encourage pollenation. The hotel has a new roof of turf. pic mike cowling feb 26 2016

Claudia Nye, film maker, interviews John of Lindum Turf, about the species mix of meadow flowers that will provide nectar and pollen for a wide range of invertebrates. Its a similar mix to that used in the surrounding meadow.  Photo: Mike Cowling.

 

The Three Hagges Wood, near Escrick, York, has a bee hotel to encourage pollenation. The hotel has a new roof of turf. pic mike cowling feb 26 2016

The slope of the mound is covered in meadow turf, and firmed in place by the Lindum team, Rosalind and Christine. Photo: Mike Cowling.

 

The Three Hagges Wood, near Escrick, York, has a bee hotel to encourage pollenation. The hotel has a new roof of turf. pic mike cowling feb 26 2016

The turves are temporarily pinned into place with short canes to prevent slippage before rooting. Photo:  Mike Cowling.

 

The Three Hagges Wood, near Escrick, York, has a bee hotel to encourage pollenation. The hotel has a new roof of turf. pic mike cowling feb 26 2016

John, Lin, Rosalind, demonstrating superior load bearing capacity and designer’s intended position for solitary bee observers’ enjoyment of the bee hotel. Photo: Mike Cowling.

 

The Three Hagges Wood, near Escrick, York, has a bee hotel to encourage pollenation. The hotel has a new roof of turf. pic mike cowling feb 26 2016

The Team Triumphant. The hotel has a new roof of turf. it is complete Photo: Mike Cowling.

 

The Three Hagges Wood, near Escrick, York, has a bee hotel to encourage pollenation. The hotel has a new roof of turf. pic mike cowling feb 26 2016

This one is called Waiting for Ryan. I hope he will come and join me this summer when our guests have moved in – and I’m relying on him for identification! Thank you for everything Ryan. Photo: Mike Cowling.