Animal homes | bee & wasp conservation

These are often relatively rare species with highly specialised requirements. However, most of the species are small and merge into the unseen background of the living countryside and for that matter, the town. With this page you will learn how to attract them and enjoy the benefits of these valuable insects.

table showing numbers of species in Britain

Social wild bees  25 
Solitary bees  227 
Social wasps (traditional wasps) 
Solitary wasps 210 
TOTAL 469 species

The majority of species require sites with a warm, sunny aspect. A sunny south-facing bank often provides a suitable site, especially where sheltered and suitable to high temperatures. Sandy soils are especially favourable (e.g. heaths & dunes), but dry clay soils may also be suitable. Some species favour the chalk and limestone. 

Underground nesting sites

Many species of solitary wasps & bees form dense colonies in very restricted areas & return to the same site for many years. Some species require a vegetation free vertical face, a sloping bank or path, simply require & open structured vegetation allowing easy access to the soil 

In woodland or other areas where a tree has been felled by a gale blow, the upturned soil exposed around the roots can become an ideal nesting site. Another example of how fallen tress should be left as an opportunistic site for not just bees & wasps.

Surface nesting sites

Hedgerows can sometimes be suitable of not over managed. For those species nesting in bramble, this plant must be retained on the sunny aspect of hedges. Dead trees with beetle burrows, standing or fallen wood (birch, elder, oak)  with small cylindrical holes may provide useful nest sites. sometimes bumblebees or wasps will colonise a bird box, sing the remains of the previous years nest. 

A variety of containers can be used, so long as they are dry, insulated, ventilated and left undisturbed. The container can be placed above or below ground, with the entrance protected from mice by 10mm wire mesh. Some down from an old pillow will encourage nesting.

Requirements away from nesting sites

It is important to recognise that the flowers of casual plants, including "weeds" particularly found on disturbed soil can be valuable so suitable flowers are available all year round. For example, even on urban sites, trampled corners of parks, old fences, walls and tree trunks provide an abundance of shelters & wild flowers for suitable conservation of these species. Herbicides, toxic sprays, removal of flowering shrubs, the loss of bare ground all decrease the factors against bee & wasp survival.

Local importance

The major areas of heathland found in West Berkshire leading into Hampshire contain the richest faunas in the South of England.