In a pioneering move for urban biodiversity, Brighton has made bee bricks a mandatory feature for all new buildings, signaling a significant stride towards a more bee-friendly future.
Bee bricks become planning requirement for new buildings in Brighton
Brighton & Hove Council’s policy stipulates that all new buildings above five metres should include bee bricks, as well as bird nesting boxes suitable for swifts. These bee bricks are the same size as regular bricks, but integrate a series of narrow openings like those where solitary bees are known to nest. The aim is to increase opportunities for biodiversity. — Dezeen
If you’re looking to make more space for nature then the Bee Brick solitary bee house is for you. Great for garden lovers, design lovers and nature lovers, the Bee Brick is an innovative nesting site for solitary bees, created to look lovely just stood in your garden, with the innovation that the brick can also be used in place of a standard brick in construction, creating more habitat for non-swarming solitary bees. Source: Instagram/greenandblueuk
Bee bricks replicate known habitat but Scientists flag potential health hazards
“Bee bricks are just one of quite a number of measures that really should be in place to address biodiversity concerns that have arisen through years of neglect of the natural environment,” said Robert Nemeth, the councillor behind the initiative. “Increased planting, hedgehog holes, swift boxes and bird feeders are all examples of other cheap and simple ideas that, together, could lead to easy medium-term gains,” he told Dezeen .
Bee bricks replicate known habitat
Nemeth proposed the move in 2019 and the stipulation has been included in planning permissions granted by the council since 1 April 2020.
While swift bricks already feature in many UK planning policies, the inclusion of bee bricks is a relatively new development. However Brighton is not alone – councils in Cornwall and Dorset have adopted similar policies.
Faye Clifton of Green&Blue, a company that manufactures bee bricks, said they recreate an existing type of nest that is popular with solitary bees, but which is becoming increasingly rare due to the precision of modern construction.
“Solitary bees nest in crumbling mortar work and old brickwork,” she said, “but modern buildings are so perfect that all the cavities are blocked.”
“We’re putting a habitat into each building in the same way that has occurred naturally for hundreds of years,” she told Dezeen.
“If these weren’t put in, it would just be a closed wall. That’s hundreds and hundreds of miles of land gone to any kind of biodiversity.”
Scientists flag potential health hazards
Scientists are divided over the effectiveness of bee bricks in improving biodiversity, with some suggesting there are risks they could attract mites and increase spread of disease.
Dave Goulson, a professor of biology at the University of Sussex, told The Guardian he had tested the bricks and found the holes to be too shallow to be “ideal homes for bees” but “are probably better than nothing”.
“We are kidding ourselves if we think having one of these in every house is going to make any real difference for biodiversity,” he said. “Far more substantial action is needed, and these bricks could easily be used as ‘greenwash’ by developers.”
Pick your brick! The Bee Brick and other bee homes from Green&Blue are both functional and beautiful, which is a rare thing for a construction material, but to also be able to contribute to helping the survival of native bees is the cherry on top. Source: Instagram/greenandblueuk
Bee-spotting Solitary bees are fascinating to watch and a wonderful way to introduce kids to bees, solitary bees have no queen or honey to protect, meaning they are non-aggressive and won’t sting. Source: Instagram/greenandblueuk
The Beepot is another option. Bee houses can be a simple way to do something to help our declining bee population, alongside bee-friendly planting and other wildlife-friendly measures. Source: Instagram/greenandblueuk
This article was first published on BrightVibes on 2 April 2022.
HOW TO HELP BEES: 8 PRACTICAL ACTION STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO BEFRIEND BEES AND MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE
The good news is there are plenty of ways you can get involved and you don’t need to become a beekeeper — unless that kind of thing gives you a buzz!