Creating new habitats to encourage biodiversity is an important part of the philosophy behind Nansledan which is why the Duchy of Cornwall has specified the use of bee bricks in the development.
The brainchild of Cornish company Green&Blue, and winner of the Soil Association’s innovation award, the bee brick provides a nesting place for solitary bees. Around 90% of bees are solitary yet few people know about their important pollinating role. There are more than 250 species of solitary bees living in Britain. Bees are responsible for pollinating around one third of all crops and solitary bees are the biggest contributor towards this. Historically they would nest in old crumbling mortar and hedgerows, but with many such habitats gone or under threat, the bee brick is designed as an alternative.
Working closely with Green&Blue and with support from charity Buglife, the Duchy and its housebuilding consortium at Nansledan are introducing bee bricks across the site, complementing the bee-friendly planting also being undertaken.
The bricks are cast in concrete using up to 75% Cornish china clay waste and have a solid back so that no bees enter the property or cavity wall, they simply nest within the cavities of the brick. And like the nesting boxes being built into new homes at Nansledan, the bricks are a ‘fit and forget’ component requiring very little upkeep apart from an annual clean with a pipe cleaner around mid-June when the brick is vacated.
The bee brick contains cavities for solitary bees to lay their eggs. Each cavity is moulded part way into the brick ensuring bees cannot enter the building. Bees lay their eggs inside the holes and seal the entrance with mud or chewed up vegetation. The offspring emerge the following spring and begin the cycle again. As solitary bees are non aggressive, because they have no honey to protect, they are pet and child friendly and the pollination service they provide is vital.
The bee brick can be used either as an integral part of a building, or be positioned as a free standing bee nest in the garden. They should be positioned in a warm sunny spot, preferably a south facing wall, with no vegetation blocking the holes, at a height of around 1.5m. Bee-friendly plants like geraniums, wallflowers, lavenders and thyme will encourage more bees into your garden.
“Bee bricks are a real ‘why wouldn’t you’ solution to the bee crisis we face. We’re proud to work with the Duchy to locate bee bricks across the Nansledan development and help improve bee habitats in Cornwall” – Gavin Christman, Green&Blue co-founder.