The University has launched an exciting conservation initiative to provide accommodation for Oxford’s solitary bees. Bees are vital pollinators but numbers of are dwindling, and one of the main reasons is loss of suitable habitat.
Known as Oxford Plan Bee, the project is a collaboration between the Plant Sciences Department and the Environmental Sustainability and Wytham Woods teams within Estates Services. It aims to create a network of new homes for solitary bees around Oxford. This involves distributing specially-made ‘bee hotels’ around the buildings of the University estate and also to local schools. The hotels provide bamboo tubes of various sizes for the bees to nest in.
More than 30 of them have now been installed at colleges, departments and other buildings around Oxford, and more are going up.
The boxes don't just provide good homes for the bees; they also provide a research platform for both scientists and 'citizen scientists' - members of the public who want to get involved with science by recording their observations of nature and submitting them to professional scientists for analysis. At the moment the scientists are focusing on the relationship between the diversity of bee species in an area, the location of particular nests and the habitat surrounding them, and how successful the bees are in their efforts to breed. Over the long term, the nest boxes will also help shed light on the relationship between climate change and the diversity of solitary bee species living here.