Bee Brick on Trial

Solitary bees are responsible for around a third of all food we eat. But they are under threat. Numbers are dropping alarmingly and the jury’s out on the reasons why. Some say chemicals used by gardeners and farmers are causing the crisis. But there’s also a loss of habitat. More intensive farming methods and building and renovation work are having a detrimental effect on bees.

We can do our bit to help. Not using sprays such as weed and insect killer is a start. Planting pollen rich plants- all year round can help. And providing a suitable habitat can also give bees a helping hand.

I’ve been sent this Bee Brick from Green & Blue to try out. I had never seen one before, so was intrigued. It’s such a simple idea. Basically, when you are undertaking any construction work, you can incorporate this bee brick into the design. They come in three different sizes and can be stacked together or used individually. They can also be used free-standing.

Female bees collect pollen and lay a single egg in one of the brick cavities. They seal it off with mud or cut leaves – usually rose or wisteria. The pollen parcel is essential. The eggs develop into larvae and stay in the nest feeding until the following spring when they emerge and start to collect their own food. If the flowers have been sprayed with anything, the poison could be carried into the nest and affect the developing bee.

There are more than 250 species of solitary bees in the UK and these pollinate a range of plants including early spring flowers such as cherries, currants, rosemary, and peas. They are less temperature sensitive than honeybees and can forage much earlier in the season. Honey bees can’t fly in temperatures below about 13C. Their flight muscles do not work if it is too cold. But did you know that bumble bees can shiver to warm up.

Above is the bee brick incorporated into a planter. Such an unusual idea,and a win, win situation for the bees if you plant pollen rich plants in the top. In my garden I’ve planted lavender, herbs and daisy-type flowers for bees. They particularly love echinaceas. The plants pictured below were a magnet to all kinds of bees all summer.

Brightly-coloured zinnias have also been popular.

And verbena bonariensis has been fabulous for bees and butterflies too. I am sure I have never seen such a fluffy bee before.

You can make your own solitary bee homes out of logs, drilling a selection of different sized holes and then hanging the log in a warm sheltered place. Bumble bees often over-winter in old mouse nests. You can help them out by providing artificial bumble bee homes. Place an upturned terracotta plant pot in the ground with a piece of hose pipe into it. Cover the top with a slate to keep out the rain. If you can obtain some used pet mouse bedding from a pet shop you can place it inside the plant pot. If not, some straw will suffice. For more information on bees contact Bumble Bee Conservation here.

I was sent this bee block from Green and Blue free of charge in return for an honest review. Opinions are my own and I haven’t been paid to write about this product.

Green and Blue won an innovation award from the Soil Association. You can read about it here.

Have you made any habitats for bees in your garden? Please share your ideas here.

26 thoughts on “Bee Brick on Trial

  1. What a great product! I try my best to plant for pollinators (and birds, and other insects) and leave leaves, etc. in place over winter to provide shelter, but I don’t have any bee houses. I need to change that. I also need a hole in the gate so the hedgehog can get in and out…

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  2. Karen, thank you for worrying about the bees. I do it for them and for all the insects. My garden is eco-friendly I have never used any chemical product. If I have a problem with a plant I prepare myself with herbal products to end the problem. And they work! For solitary bees I have built a hotel with normal bricks, a piece of wood with holes of different sizes, a piece of pine wood for the bees (they like to make their own nest in the wood) and everything put in a corner of the garden. Next to it there is a pile of firewood, old straw and stones. A bush and a canine rose contained by large stones. I call it the bugs’ residence, saying bugs with all my love. If you want to learn about bees, I recommend Tina’s blog You will also learn about birds and butterflies. I have learned everything I know from bees from Tina. Karen a great blog and the Green and Blue is fine to put it. I love the one that the gardener has. It is very sad but true as you very well say that the bee is in danger of extinction. The biggest culprits are the chemicals that farmers use for pests that are already immune to them. The plant preferred by bees is Echinacea purpurea or not purpurea, it needs a lot of sun and gives a quantity of flowers in the form of precious daisy. Memories for your Mother. Karen keep the heat. Greetings with much love from Margarita.

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  3. How intriguing and looks great for the bees! We have no shortage of bees here, mostly Africanized honey bees, but fortunately ours have been unusually gentle. Also a number of unidentified solitary bees. I give them the run of the garden and leave it at that! Your photos are wonderful 🙂

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    • Thank you. How wonderful. Please remind me of where you are in the world? We have many different types of bees. We had a wild bees nest in our loft this summer. It was fascinating to see their activity. When it was wet, they didn’t come out. Neither did we! When it was going to be a good day, they were out at dawn. We scrambled to get outdoors. They were a remarkable weather station for us. We were relieved to see they didn’t produce honey. I had visions of it coming though the ceiling. Thanks again for getting in touch. Karen

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      • We live out in rural Arizona, just outside the city of Phoenix. This area had never been anything but wild ranch land till about ten years ago and is still quite open, so there is nothing to slow down the bees! I love the idea of using them as a weather station! 🙂

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