Costa Rica has between 650 and 700 species of bees, of which 90% are considered solitary, so they look for suitable places to nest and thus continue contributing to their pollination task.
However, over time these insects have been losing places to make their homes due to multiple human actions, especially in urban areas.For this reason, an initiative seeks to offer them nesting spaces that are known as “bee hotels“.These are artificial structures specially designed so that bees can settle.
“This program has been promoted for three years from the Chamber of Beekeeping, which through the Cantons Amigos de lasAbejas program, we have reached some 60 municipalities, the goal is to cover 83 municipalities, as well as invite public institutions, private companies and citizens to install these hotels”, explained Juan Bautista Alvarado, president of the National Chamber for the Promotion of Beekeeping.
Essential role for the ecological balance in nature
Bees play an essential role for the ecological balance in nature and for human life, due to their role as pollinators and their ability to produce honey, royal jelly and wax. It is estimated that 80% of crop pollination depends on these insects.
Curridabat, San Ramón, La Unión and Oreamuno are pioneering cantons in terms of placing bee hotels in public spaces, as part of the Friends of the Bees program.And it is that these populations of bees have been seriously affected in recent years, mainly due to the lack of habitat and the excessive use of chemical products in the environment, especially in agricultural activity.
How to be part of the program
People who are interested in placing these hotels in the gardens and patios of their homes, can approach the Chamber of Beekeeping, Municipalities of the Cantons Amigos de lasAbejas program and the Center for Tropical Beekeeping Research (Cinat) of the UNA, to receive prior training on proper use.
The installation requires a comprehensive strategy to obtain results in the medium or long term, since you have to be patient during the process, according to Paul Hanson, professor of Biology at the University of Costa Rica (UCR).“Sometimes it takes months for them to get to use it, it takes time, and sometimes other things come along,” Hanson said.
People can also develop hotels in a more traditional way with the placement of dry branches or “dead” wood, bamboo or holes in wood, which, properly placed, can be the home of these bees.
Before building any bee hotel it is necessary for people to place plants and flowers around it, which provide food for these solitary species.”All these species are very important, there are certain plants that depend on these solitary bees, the idea is to conserve all the diversity of bees to maximize pollination, since many of the crops depend on this for fruits and seeds,” Hanson added.
Hotels also represent a good opportunity to generate education in children, and that from a young age they understand the importance for humanity of the preservation of these species of bees.
“In addition to giving shelter to bees, they are a very important element of environmental education, because in Costa Rica we have detected a profound lack of knowledge regarding the number of bee species we have and their important role for ecosystems,” added Alvarado.
Ending 2023 with the declaration of the 83 cantons as Friends of the Bees and that all municipalities have at least one hotel for solitary bees is the objective of the National Chamber of Beekeeping.