I am not the most practically minded person in the world, but I do enjoy a bit of D.I.Y. After coming across an old picture frame and backing board in the garage, I did what any amateur naturalist (and even more amateur handy man) would do, and decided to convert it into a bee hotel for solitary bees and insect overwintering site.
There are over 200 species of solitary bee in the UK, most of which go largely unnoticed to the untrained eye. Normally slightly smaller than their social cousins, they are no less active and ubiquitous and are common visitors to gardens and parks all over the UK. Within the 200 species found, a variety of life history strategies are represented as different species go about their business in novel ways. Their distinguishing feature however, as their name suggests, is that they do this as solitary individuals or mating pairs, although some species do form non organised colonies.
Common visitors to gardens include miner bees (Andrena), that make nests in the ground, usually in sandy soil and along paths, and leaf-cutter bees such as the Megachile species. Look out for neatly cut circles in rose leaves and petals that these bees make, using the vegetation to build nests in hollow vegetation. It was for Megachile species, and other solitary bees in search of suitable hollows to nest, that my bee hotel was built for, in the hope that one by one they will lay their solitary larval cells within, to then hatch out in spring / summer next year.
Although my dodgy handiwork means that the picture frame is no longer housing a work of art in any shape or form , the hope is that, with a reasonable rent and specially tailored living spaces, it might offer a few more housing options for species that have lost many natural alternatives. There have been a few residents check-in already, but it appears that solitary bees can be quite picky. Hopefully, word will get round ready for next season!