According to the environmental ministry of Colombia, which is the second most biodiverse country in the world, there are 550 registered varieties of bees in the country but there could be as many as 1,445 species. These bees are vital for pollinating crops and plants throughout the country.
One community in Colombia has figured out a way to help bees stay safe after they do their jobs by building hotels for solitary bees of all shapes and sizes to check in and rest a while.
In Barbosa, Colombia, at the Aburra Valley, the Metropolitan Authority is building tiny hotel shelters for bees, so they are able to be in a safe space for a rest break and after a busy day working the flowers and pollinating plants.
Solitary bees like mason bees, bumblebees, leafcutters, and carpenters do not live in organized hives. These hard-working pollinator bees buzz from flower to flower but don't get as much attention as their well-known cousins, the honeybees.
The hexagonal hotel structures are lovingly built from a variety of bamboo canes, which is just about the toughest and most enduring wood out there, as well as other woods, and they are finished with acrylic roofs. This ensures the bees are protected from rain. Bees don’t like flying in rain and usually don’t forage while it is raining.
This 1:02-minute video by Daily News Update shows these bee hotels:
While the bees are out working, their spaces are cleaned by people with such tools as paintbrushes.
Hector Ivan Valencia is an assistant for the local authority’s risk management unit. He says the reason this was done is so they can have quiet time in their rooms to rest before setting off again.
Valencia and other assistants clean out the bamboo rooms during the day with paintbrushes in the same way hotel rooms for humans are cleaned after one visitor checks out and before the next visitor checks in.
According to the local authority, these bee hotels are intended to protect species in the 10 municipalities of the metropolitan area of the Aburra Valley, which includes Barbosa and Medellin, the second largest city in Colombia.
The natural homes of solitary bees were and still are being destroyed, and this threatens them. Officials say the bee hotel shelters mimic the natural homes they make for themselves, so they feel safe and protected inside them.
Like so many other countries globally, Colombia’s bees are threatened by the hazards created by human decisions and activities. Pesticides, fertilizers, monocultures, and climate change. Juan David Palacio, director of the metropolitan area’s environmental and transportation authority, says bees are being negatively impacted around the world and are losing ground and their habitat spaces every day.
The plight of honeybees is fairly well known because the dilemma receives much publicity, but solitary bee species do not have anyone focused on helping them, according to Valencia. He says that these little bees are very sensitive to poisons, but since they don’t produce honey nobody speaks on their behalf.
Colombia is coming to their rescue with these little hotels and making a statement that we can all ponder. Setting up a bee hotel in your private garden or organizing bee hotel parks in local communities around the world would be a wonderful project for people everywhere to undertake to help these unsung heroes, the solitary bees.
You can read more about this project here.