RSPB NI: Give nature a hand - build a bee hotel!

As the days start to lengthen, and nature wakes up around us, it’s a good time of year to turn your sights to your garden or outdoor space, writes RSPB NI’s Angela Mahon.

Buff tail bee on globe thistle Grahame Madge
Buff tail bee on globe thistle Grahame Madge

Looking after a garden can be great mindful activity that’s also good for physical health – plus it’s something we can all do to help nature and wildlife.

Put together, UK gardens, backyards and balconies are almost three times bigger than all of RSPB’s 200-plus nature reserves combined. That’s a lot of space where everyone can make a difference for nature.

There are many simple things we can do to create beautiful spaces that are good for both people and wildlife.

It is estimated that we’ve lost 97 per cent of our wildflower meadows from our landscapes since 1930, so by planting a patch in your garden you can create a feature bursting with colour, which also supports important pollinators like butterflies and bees.

If you don’t have a garden, plant-up a window box or hanging basket with pollinator-friendly blooms. You’ll be amazed at how much wildlife you can help from even a small area.

Another way you can help pollinators is by putting up a bee hotel.

Solitary bees such as leafcutters will soon start to emerge from hibernation and take up residence in spring. Unlike honeybees, which live in hives, solitary bees make their nests on their own, in tunnels such as dead wood or hard soil.

A bee hotel mimics these conditions. They aren’t tricky to make – there are lots of helpful guides online, or there are some great ready-made ones available from the RSPB’s online shop.

Providing a mini-pond will attract a range of wildlife to your patch. You can create one without even digging a hole, by making it out of a small container such as a washing up bowl.

Once your pond is complete, keep an eye out for insects such as pond-skaters and birds popping by for a splash. Every space, whether it’s an urban yard, busy family garden or a window box, can give nature a home.

For more nature friendly gardening tips go to - rspb.org.uk/yourdoorstep. Or consider becoming an RSPB member to receive an award-winning quarterly magazine and free entry to RSPB nature reserves.