A new law passed by the city of Brighton & Hove requires all new buildings over five meters in height to include bricks for bees, as well as bird nests suitable for swifts.
Bricks for bees?
These are bricks that are the same size as normal ones. The only difference: they integrate a series of narrow openings (generally circular in shape) made specifically to allow solitary bees to nest.
The target? Clear. It is about increasing the opportunities for biodiversity. Solitary bees constitute nearly 250 of the approximately 270 bee species in Britain, and play a crucial role in the natural ecosystem.
The use of bee bricks has been raised in several UK planning rules, but their practical introduction is a new development. Cornwall and Dorset will soon follow in Brighton.
Replicate the known habitat
"Bee bricks are one of several measures that should be implemented to address biodiversity problems that have emerged as a result of years of neglect of the natural environment," he says. Robert Nemeth, municipal councilor who promoted the initiative.
"The api solitary ones nest in crumbling mortars and old bricks, ”Nemeth said,“ but modern buildings are so perfect that all the cavities are plugged ”.
This solution restores a natural "synergy" that was long lost.
Someone points out potential health risks
Not everyone applauds the initiative, however. Some researchers are skeptical of this solution's effectiveness in improving biodiversity. Indeed, not sparing in some isolated cases the veiled accusations of greenwashing they also arrive warn of possible risks for health.
Lars Chittka, professor of sensory and behavioral ecology at Queen Mary University, is of another opinion. He said the bees would be able to mitigate potential problems on their own, "which should to some extent offset the risks that come with such long-term nesting opportunities."
Brighton policy may open up to a serious study of the impact of bee bricks. After a first two-year research already developed from the British University of Exeter, a 5-10 year monitoring could lead to the demand for its massive adoption in British construction, and perhaps elsewhere.
An interesting test case, don't you think? Consider that one third of world food production depends on bees and other pollinators, but about one in 10 species of bees in Europe (consider it an even optimistic estimate) is at risk of extinction.