What do you call a bee’s home if it doesn’t live in a hive?
It sounds like a trick question, but it’s a major point of contention at the official unveiling of the new mutli-tiered planter-cum-bee-home at the top on Regent Street in Clifton Village.
The planters are built to attract and house the many subspecies of the endangered solitary bee – and draw consumers to Clifton with a few extra neighbourhood-brightening blooms.
“It’s a bee hotel,” says Carrie Pooler, Clifton Village’s business improvement district manager.
Russ Henry, the planter’s designer, quickly corrects her: “They live in it permanently, so it’s not a hotel,” he says. “It’s more like a bee mansion. Or bee apartments.”
Whatever it is, it’s a continuation of the Bristol Green Capital spirit. Not only does the planter provide protection for endangered bees, it was built from reclaimed wood by Henry, who runs design company Hot Soup House in Bedminster.
The designer has signed on to create at least one more unique and bee-friendly planter in the neighbourhood.
“We would love to have four or five,” says Rosie Joseland, BID Clifton Village’s coordinator. “Not only does it help bees, but it helps build recognition in Clifton. It encourages people to discover Bristol. It’s a welcome to visitors.”
BID Clifton Village will also use the planters to host talks by Clifton Village’s own bee-experts and bee-friendly gardeners.
Horticulturist Connie Reeves of Easton’s Flower Riot, still digging about in the boxes as we spoke, was tasked with selecting hearty flowering British plants for the project, specifically choosing vegetation that attracts pollinators like bees and butterflies.
“They’re all annuals, so they don’t need replacing,” she explains.
Despite bringing bees onto the Clifton streets, none of the founders seem particularly concerned about the increased possibility of bee-stings.
“Solitary bees don’t sting,” says Henry, though horticulturist Reeves mentions that the plants will inevitably attract all manner of pollinators.
“People who live here have an interest in bees,” adds Pooler. “There are a lot of beekeepers and people who work with bees in the area.”
So will the solitary bees move in? You’ll be able to tell if they do, says Henry. If you see one of the multi-sized holes of the “bee mansion” has closed up, that means that a new bee has moved in.
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