Beautiful Bait Hives? Ask a Bee!

Earlier this year we suggested transforming referendum campaign posters into emergency housing for refugee bees. This certainly is a clever and sustainable way to recycle the many posters that thronged our streets and the parallels between a bee’s democratic search for a new home and our democratic process of voting gives us a greater connection to these pollinators. Also,  a precedent had already been set by expert beekeepers who have successfully overwintered bees in nucleus hives made out of this material. But, we do have to admit, there are nicer looking homes for bees than those made of corriboad!


‘Insectenjuisjes’ made by Bastiaan Meijer of Amsterdam

Not that the bee is worried about aesthetics – that’s the human’s remit – but condensation might be a problem if adequate ventilation is not provided (bees can cope with cold but cannot tolerate damp!). Also, some ideas that we have gathered from Oslo’s inspiring ‘Bumblebee Highway’ (click on the house symbols on the map to take a peek!) and the exquisite ceramic ‘insectenjuisjes’ made by Bastiaan Meijer of Amsterdam prove that a range of materials can be used to create beautiful bait hives to both attract the attention of a passer-by and the bee! 


Thomas Seeley’s research at Cornell discovered that honeybees do not care about aesthetics, but they are fussy about volume (40 litres +), position ( apx. 5 metres high, south facing and sheltered) and size of entrance hole (3.5cm).

We at Bí would like to emphasise that we are not experts on this subject. Our objective is to become a catalyst for citizen science and initiate a process where we all learn together. So, when building a temporary home for bees this summer BÍ INSPIRED by these examples and let your creativity flow. Different pollinators prefer different types of habitat. ByBi, creators of Oslo’s Bumblebee highway, encourage working with these preferences in your accommodation design to attract a diversity of creatures to your garden.


Hollow tree trunks were the traditional home of the honeybee but our ancient forests are gone. It has been suggested that the urban environment may now provide a better selection of cavities suitable for wild bee habitation than our forests.

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Decide on the type of bee you would like to attract, study it’s habits and try to get into it’s skin when creating your refugee housing. The simplest, and possibly the best,  way to attract bumblebees and solitary bees is to create a mess! Many of these wild bees nest underground and love the protection that a heap of decaying material in a dark corner provides. Alys Fowler has been studying the links between soil health and high levels of pollination and advocates developing good composting habits to attract more pollinators to your garden. We discovered two bumblebee nests in composting units this summer, another two in heaps of rubbish and two inside crumbling stone walls.

One of these stone walls was being demolished and the bumblebees were threatened. Bumblebees do not generally relocate well, but Bí Team member, Luke Hensey, managed to rescue them and rehouse them in the Sitric Compost Community Garden. This is the nest of Bombus Terrestris we have been photographing and filming over recent weeks. Come visit them on display July 18th & 19th at the Dublin City Council Biodiversity Event at St Anne’s Rose Festival!


We would love to hear about your adventures experimenting with ‘bait hives.’ Please post photos of your designs, describing both your successes AND failures, on our Bí Facebook Group and we’ll reward you with some gorgeous ethically produced Bí products (Soaps, Seed Bombs and Foot Soaks)!


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