While the U.S. bee population fell by 23 percent between 2008 and 2013, the Netherlands is abuzz with activity. Within that country, bees have multiplied by 45 percent since 2000, and this isn’t by accident. As NBC reports, “insect hotels” and plants that are known to attract bees and butterflies have been strategically placed around Amsterdam in recent years.
According to Netherlands-based entomologist Jo-Lynn Teh-Weisenburger, insect hotels are “considered to be the urban solution to declining populations of beneficial insects in human environments due to habitat loss, pollution, and abuse of pesticides.” They’re often made from wooden pallets and feature small tubes where bees can nest.
The rise of wild bee and honeybee populations in Amsterdam has also been linked to a ban against chemical pesticides on public land. A study from last year found that one widely used pesticide makes it harder for bees to fly on target.
The decline of the bee—an important pollinator—has been a growing concern around the world. "Insects are very important because they’re the start of the food chain," Geert Timmermans, an ecologist who works for the city of Amsterdam, told NBC. "When it goes well with the insects, it also goes well with the birds and mammals."
Insect hotels have also proven popular in Canada, with one conservation group setting up more than 400 bee habitats in Alberta. The “hotels” are easy enough to make, but Teh-Weisenburger warns that there’s a right and a wrong way to go about it. So if you’re looking to take on a DIY insect hotel project, check out her article for tips first.