Without pollinators, there are no good crops
The number of pollinators has decreased alarmingly all over the world, impacting the crops of flowering plants, cultivated and wild alike, as well as garden berries and fruits. In Finland’s conditions, for instance, blueberry crops would be hard hit by any decline in the number of pollinators.
The disappearance of decaying wood from forests and gardens also threatens the numbers of pollinators. This is why humans need to come to the aid of insects by building insect hotels and other nesting holes for hole-nesting insects. Leaving the environment natural, by not mowing lawns and retaining decaying trees, for example, also improves the living conditions of pollinators.
Pollinators come in many shapes and sizes
The characteristics of a good pollinator include efficiency and an ability to withstand even somewhat poor conditions (temperature, raininess, the long days of pollination times, etc.). While there are many species that specialise in a particular plant, there are also generalists for which any plant will do the job, provided that their tongue is long enough. There are therefore species with long tongues that specialise in flowers with deep corolla tubes and short-tongued species specialised in flowers with shallow corolla tubes.
Bumblebees are productive pollinators due to their technique of “buzz pollination”, which is a very effective way of loosening pollen from flowers. Bumblebees are furthermore able to pollinate even in inclement weather, and often continue pollinating in the evening, longer than other Apoidea. Bumblebees are important as pollinators, even though they do not nest in insect hotels.
Many a manner to offer nesting holes
There are many ways by which to provide nesting holes for pollinators. You can build a very simple straw nest out of, say, a milk carton and straws, or drill holes in a block of birch. You can make a luxury residence according to a combination nest model or simply according to a model of your own, using cones, moss, straws and grass, as scouts do.
You can find building instructions for insect hotels (in Finnish with pictures) on the hyonteishotellit.fi website. Building a hotel is something we all can do. Small acts have a big impact on nature and people’s wellbeing.
Many kinds of Hymonoptera take up residence in insect hotels
Insect hotels are taken up by procreating Hymonoptera – or membrane-winged insects – which, in nature, would take up residence in dead tree trunks, hollow plant stems and old timber buildings. Such Hymonoptera include the willowherb leafcutter bee, Apoidea, and potter wasps as well as their parasites. Bumblebees, on the other hand, do not stay in insect hotels.
The occupants of an insect hotel do not defend their nest. In practice this means that they will not sting to defend their nest. Membrane-winged insects nesting in natural nests, however, will defend their nest by stinging the intruder.
Together for pollinators
By challenging the entire nation to build insect hotels and cherish the environment with consideration for pollinators’ living conditions, we are doing a favour for all generations.
By taking care of the living conditions of pollinators now, we are giving future generations an example of plant health and the resulting sufficiency of food production.
Humans need to come to the aid of insects