Amsterdam Hopes to Save Bee Populations With Its 'Insect Hotels'

iStock
iStock

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.

[h/t NBC]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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A Wily Fox With a Passion for Fashion Stole More Than 100 Shoes From a Berlin Neighborhood

The smirk.
The smirk.
Brett Jordan, Unsplash

In Berlin, Germany, a fox has embarked on a crime spree that puts Dora the Explorer’s Swiper completely to shame.

CNN-News18 reports that residents of Zehlendorf, a locality in southeastern Berlin, spent weeks scratching their heads as shoes continued to disappear from their stoops and patios overnight. After posting about the mystery on a neighborhood watch site and reading accounts from various bewildered barefooters, a local named Christian Meyer began to think the thief might be a fox.

He was right. Meyer caught sight of the roguish robber with a mouthful of flip-flop and followed him to a field, where he found more than 100 stolen shoes. The fox appears to have an affinity for Crocs, but the cache also contained sandals, sneakers, a pair of rubber boots, and one black ballet flat, among other footwear. Unfortunately, according to BBC News, Meyer’s own vanished running shoe was nowhere to be seen.

Foxes are known for their playfulness, and it’s not uncommon for one to trot off with an item left unattended in a yard. Birmingham & Black Country Wildlife explains that foxes are drawn to “things that smell good,” which, to a fox, includes dog toys, balls, gardening gloves, and worn shoes. And if your former cat’s backyard gravesite is suddenly empty one day, you can probably blame a fox for that, too; they bury their own food to eat later, so a deceased pet is basically a free meal.

The fate of Zehlendorf’s furriest burglar remains unclear, but The Cut’s Amanda Arnold has a radical idea: that the residents simply let the fox keep what is obviously a well-curated collection.

[h/t CNN-News18]