Sep 08, 2022  /  Other cool stuff

Why we built a pollinator hotel and why it matters

By Miriam Barnhart

Next to “save the turtles” and paper straws, the trending efforts to “save the bees!” has been publicised everywhere, from the local food market down the street to T-shirts and even the honeys that we buy. A panic about the future of our pollinating ecosystems, but not a very clear direction of what we have to do to change the course. 

As a brand trying to achieve higher levels of sustainability, we wanted to see what we could do and what the buzz was all about (pun intended). A few things we looked at:

  • Beehives
  • Pre-made insect hotels 
  • Custom-built insect/pollinator hotels

We went through each option, weighing the pros and cons, and trying to determine what made the most sense for our space and the residents that live there. In the process, we got connected to a pollinator expert — Steve Rogenstein from The Ambeessadors — who helped us understand a bit more about the research behind the “save the bees” movement. 

He explained that, although honey bees living in managed hives are dying at unsustainable levels (in some places up to 50% per year), they’re not the ones threatened by possible extinction. Rather, it’s the wild bees, many of whom are solitary, that need serious protection. From a global perspective, when introduced in large quantities, managed honey bees can actually cause more harm to the wild bees, as they can potentially dominate in the local ecosystem. Although we weren’t planning to have more than one hive, we wanted to position ourselves to support the most threatened of the pollinators. Also, we really liked the idea of creating a home to combat loneliness for both humans and solitary bees. 😉 

We then looked at pre-made insect hotels, which were definitely a viable option, but missing the custom aspect of a hotel made by a local craftsman, designed with elements that would particularly appeal to specific species of solitary bees and insects. As an alternative, he suggested that we create our own pollinator hotel. 

Thus began our journey of making sure we had everything we needed to create a good environment for pollinators – a category that includes all sorts of insects like bees, butterflies, beetles, flies, wasps, birds and small mammals — of which our hotel will probably most appeal to solitary bees. Are the plants, trees and flowers in the vicinity rich in pollen and nectar? Is there enough space for them to fly in and out without being disturbed? 

After some months of research, consultation from The Ambeessadors, and working with a local craftsman in Münster, we have expanded POHA House into being a home not only for humans, but for beneficial insects as well. In fact, our first residents have already moved in! 

pollinator bees

Why we built a pollinator hotel and why it matters

Miriam Barnhart

8th September 2022

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