Can honey bees live in the ground?

Wild bees endangered

May 20th is World Bee Day. A day that becomes more important from year to year. Because bees are seriously threatened. It is not only honey bees that have a hard time: cleared landscapes without hedges and wildflowers, the use of pesticides and overfertilization also affect the more than 560 native wild bee species. Home and garden owners can help the bees with simple means, but to really do something about the death of bees and insects, you need a clear plan from politics and agriculture.

Many people only think of the honey bee when they think of "bee". There is with usmore than 560 species of wild bees, half of which are critically endangered. Most of them do not live with others in large states like the honey bee, but alone and look after their offspring. Each species has very special requirements. If it gets more and more monotonous, there will be fewer and fewer bees.

More than 400 species build their nests independently, 135 species parasitize on other wild bee species and save their own nest. 75 percent of all wild bee species nest in the ground, the rest look for plant stalks or use burrows in the wood of beetles. Many collect pollen and carry it into the caves as food for the little ones, lay eggs in it and seal the tube. There are types thatthe pollen of exactly one plant species or plant family need. If these plants are not there, there cannot be wild bees.

Wild bees look very different: The smallest native wild bee species, theSand steppe bee, is only four millimeters tall, other species are significantly larger with up to three centimeters.

TheInsect of the year 2019 is also a wild bee thatRust-red mason bee(Osmia bicornis). This species is still relatively common and likes to live close to human dwellings, so that one can observe the beauty of the wild bees and their life. The insects willeight to 14 millimeters large. You use existing onesCavities in dead wood, loess and clay walls, in dry stone walls, loose rock and numerous other structuresto create their individual mortar breeding nests in them. Nests of this bee have already been found in door locks, in water hoses, holes in wooden shelves or in recorders. The rust-red mason bee is happy to accept artificial nesting opportunities made of wood, bamboo or reeds.It collects pollen from 15 different plant familiesso that she can usually find something everywhere.

(Wild) bees are irreplaceable

Honey and wild bees and a host of other insects areindispensable part of our biological diversity and contribute significantly to the pollination of our cultivated and wild plants. Approximately80 percent of all useful and wild plants are pollinated by honey bees. Wild bees, butterflies, hoverflies and other insects account for 20 percent. Without bees, the shelves in our supermarkets would be empty. Where bees have already died out, e.g. in parts of Japan or China, fruit trees have to be pollinated by human hands - with a brush, flower by flower.

The wild bee populations are in a nosedive. In Germany, Europe and many other parts of the world, too, the total number and diversity of species is decreasing in many other insects. A big reason for thatdramatic insect deaths in Germanyis the constant intensification of agriculture. If insects don't die directly from insecticides,They lack living space and food bases. Because many wild bee species are specialists and only fly to one forage plant - or plant family. If the plant disappears from the landscape, the wild bee species dies out.

Agriculture for biodiversity

But there are ways to manage agricultural land in such a way that it provides a habitat for wild animal and plant species. The Agriculture for Biodiversity project by WWF, Biopark and EDEKA aims to increase the diversity of wild animal and plant species in agricultural habitats. This is achieved with the help of an operationally variable nature protection module, an additional qualification for organic farming. At the heart of the project is aCatalog of over 100 different nature conservation measures.

On the occasion of World Bee Day, the WWF is demanding an effective program from the federal government to reduce the use of synthetic chemical pesticides in agriculture, their complete ban in nature reserves and more transparency about their actual use in Germany's fields. "Without effective measures to reduce pesticides, there is no effective protection for bees," said Diana Pretzell, Director of Biodiversity Policy at WWF Germany.

This is how you help the wild bees

  • Home and garden owners can do something for the wild bees:A near-natural, bee-friendly garden with a lot of variety offers wild bees shelter and food. Many bees are specialists and only fly to certain plants - the more different the planting in the garden, the better it is for the bees.
  • When buying seeds, make sure thatnative and bee-friendly plants to buy. Because: not everything that flowers provides bees with food. Well suited are e.g. B. lavender, daisies, bluebells or sunflowers.
  • Anyone who has space in the garden canBees provide shelter with an insect hotel. There is now a wide range in retail, but building it yourself is also quick.
  • Make sure to use natural materials when building: Drilled hardwood, tubes made of paper with different diameters, stalks made of straw or clay into which you press holes of different widths are good.
  • Hang up the hotel in a sunny place protected from wind and weather - and soon the first eager wild bees will be fighting for the best places.