New bee hotel causes a buzz in Soho and Covent Garden

CityWest Homes has added their first bee hotel to a roof garden in Soho and Covent Garden estate, London to boost the wildlife.

Made up of a network of bamboo tubes, the hotel is a home for solitary bees to nest. Bees are crucial to our survival as they pollinate flowers, which in turn provide us with fruit and vegetables. Since pollination by insects is the main way that three quarters of the UK’s flowering plants make seeds, they are a valuable part of the process. Not all bees live in a social hive. Solitary bees live alone, which is why bee hotels provide a safe place for them to nest and lay their eggs.

The hotel is located on the roof garden of Dufours Place, which houses a variety of plant life, making it an ideal nook for bees to make a home in the city.

Liz Waine, south operations manager, CityWest Homes, helped to get the project underway. She said: “There are around 250 species of solitary bees in the UK and there have been a number of them using the hotel already. Unlike honeybees and bumblebees, these solitary bees do not live in colonies. They are excellent pollinators and a very useful addition to the garden.

“The roof garden has attracted all kinds of wildlife over the years, so it’s fantastic to have a new addition to the area. The hotel is especially crucial during a time when bees are struggling to thrive in the current climate.”

CityWest Homes has encouraged wildlife and sustainability by establishing a number of wildlife meadows, gardens and even beehives on our estates. Lillington and Longmoore estate, Pimlico, is especially well known for its fantastic garden areas. It has been awarded the prestigious Green Flag Award for excellent management for seven years running and is home to two thriving beehives. These have been producing honey since 2011.

James Myers, head gardener, Lillington and Longmoore estate, has been nurturing the hives on the estate. He said: “The hives have been a wonderful success and very self sustaining. We use national standard beehives and these can house up to 50,000 bees per hive. Last year we were able to get around 40 jars of honey, which we then sold to residents living on the estate. Bees are incredible creatures. For example, just to make one jar of honey, all the journeys the bees have to make to source the necessary nectar would total around 40,000 miles – which is nearly twice around the world.

“While CityWest Homes gardeners look after the hives, residents take an interest in them too and are welcome to help. Projects like these can help make people more aware of their estate and prove that even in the heart of a city, there’s still plenty of potential for growing your own produce.”

The team are hoping for sweet success at the London Honey Show, 7 October 2013. The show draws bee lovers from across the city and celebrates the cream of the urban honey crop. Lillington and Longmoore estate entered the awards in 2011 and their home-grown brand of honey was shortlisted in the ‘best honey from first year beekeeper’ category.

CityWest Homes continues to develop high quality green spaces and encourage residents to get involved. With the addition of bee hives and hotels on their estates, they are working to create areas which nurture nature for generations to come.

Photograph captions:

Main: The bee hotel is open for visitors.
Top left: James Myers, head gardener, Lillington and Longmoore estate, proudly shows off the bees.

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