Sunday, 14 June 2015

Making a High rise bug hotel

I love my garden. I've always made sure I have flowers, especially those that attract bees and other pollinators and beneficial insects.My foxgloves are just bursting into flower, and they're enormously tall this year. There are some big, ornamental, daisies by the fedge. There are lawn daisies, dandelions, and buttercups, in my lawn. My comfrey has been flowering. The fruit bushes have finished flowering, and so have the apple trees.
I have plants growing that will flower later, or next year. There are 2 clematis - one with small, pale blue flowers, and another with larger, darker flowers. The pale one will flower soon, the darker one only just went in the ground so who knows this year! There's a recently acquired honeysuckle, which may or may not flower this summer. The geraniums, one pink, one blue, are establishing themselves but won't have many flowers. The herb garden only just went in, so not much there either.
Slowly, it is developing into a vibrant, colourful, garden.
I saw a project for building a HUGE bug hotel from a pile of pallets. The one I saw had hedgehog homes at the base, stacks of rotting wood, layers of dead leaves, piles of bamboo canes, and used several pallets.
I don't want anything that big.
I started by prowling my pile of mostly dismembered pallet bits. If you're working with pallets, it's always worth keeping the unused bits for a while. You never know when inspiration may strike!

Stage one: Find, or make, a frame for the bits to go in. 

I used this part of a pallet, but you can use, or build, whatever size or shape you want - just remember you will need to fill it with stuff for the bugs to live in. You'll see what I mean in a moment. I screwed a plank taken from another pallet to one side - providing a back to contain the filling, and as the plank was longer than the pallet section it would also provide a means of attaching the finished hotel to the fence.

Stage 2: Stuff it with stuff. 

You can see the top of the back plank poking out at the top there, and there's a bit at the bottom too. You can place your backing however you want depending on how, and where, you intend to place the hotel. I wanted to fix mine in place so it can't fall over, so I left a bit for that.
Make a variety of fillings from dead stuff you have round the garden - dead, dry, sticks, dead leaves, grass, anything like that. You'll also need some holes - so bits of bamboo cane, or wood with holes drilled in are all perfect.The more variety of fillings - potential homes -you can put in, the more different insects you'll get.
I stuffed mine with some straw, sticks collected from the garden, a block from my pallet bits pile - with assorted holes drilled into it, cut bamboo canes, and some dead leaves and grass - again gathered from the garden. The canes were old, broken, ones from the shed - sawn to fit with the open ends facing front so solitary bees and other insects may find them appealing. Don't try to clip canes with secaturs or they collapse and split! You want the little tubes for insect homes. The block of wood with the holes was fun! I took my cordless drill, a pack of wood drill bits, and just made holes in different sizes. Some of the sticks needed to be snapped or sawn to fit nicely.

Stage 3: Placing.

Place your bug hotel close to where you want your pollinators - if that's why you're making one. That's the exact reason for mine so the hotel is fastened to the fence post at the end of the block wall in my garden - next to my apple trees and near my veg beds. You can put yours wherever you like, but bear in mind that like all wildlife, insects are more likely to move in if they can be undisturbed most of the time. Don't go poking it until your residents have had time to settle in, and even then, don't disturb them if you want them to stay.
Have fun!

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