I have a number of bug hotels and hovels built specifically for insects and slugs and snails to hide in on the wildlife plot. Without these we wouldn’t get the frogs and toads, slow worms and birds as the food web or chain won’t be complete.
First of all we have the Hilton of bug hotels. I didn’t build this one – The Wildlife Trust did – and it has everything in it with a waterproof roof. This type of shelter can be a hotel for anything from hedgehogs to toads, solitary bees to bumblebees, and ladybirds to woodlice. I don’t like to ferret around in it so I don’t know what is in there apart from woodlice – lots of them! This just needs an occasional top up of materials and possibly rebuilding every few years. It is certainly a feature of the plot. The RSPB has a good set of instructions for creating one of these.
The flowerpot people are also bug hotels – more like Premier Inns than the Hilton – and suit slugs and snails. They are near the pond so that there is a food source for frogs and toads and slow worms in the summer when they are in the sun. They are extremely easy to build, no instructions needed and have grasses or pinks in the top pot as hair.
The next inn was made from a rusty plant support and a bit of netting stuffed with teasel heads and pine cones. I wrapped the netting inside the support and then stuffed the teasel heads down to the narrow end and then filled it up with the cones. To keep it all inside I placed a piece of the netting over the legs of the support and slid it up. Birds may well have a look at the teasels so I have stuck some outside the support as well making it look a bit peculiar. This is now sited in the taller end of the rubble wall that snakes through The Thugs Bed.
Someone left a Bee Brick on the bench for me. I looked them up and they need to be about 1m off the ground so built up a brick tower to sit it on, facing south. From everything I have read about solitary bees, you really need to clean out the tubes so I am not sure how well this will work but will give it a go.
Then we have the rubble pile on the Brownfield Site Bed. This has logs, stones, dried grasses, water pipes leading in for solitary bees to go down and through, corrugated iron and then broken bricks on top. This is designed for a range of creatures and it will be interesting to see what uses it. This idea comes from John Little and shows how brownfield sites can be rich areas for insects and invertebrates meaning that building rubble does not have to be removed just shaped and repurposed appropriately saving a lot of waste.
As the weather warms up, this bed will be planted with yellow and white wildflowers or weeds depending on your point of view.
All this bed needs now is the mound of sand. I will use builders sand as part of the waste materials on a building site and it will be south-facing and specifically for solitary bees. It will be interesting to see what happens, if anything.
The next two bed and breakfast rooms are similar but look very different. They are the wall built out of waste building materials (not unlike the pile above) which offers lots of nooks and crannies and a stone filled gabion (quite small) with lots of gaps between the stones and warm enough in the sun to bask on. The gabion will have soil pockets put in and then plants popped in. I have a daisy, Erigeron karvinsianus, that someone has donated and no doubt I will never be without it after this.
On order is a solitary bee hotel with a viewing panel which will be fixed to a pole about a metre off the ground. You will be able to take the side off and look into the chambers to see what the bees are doing. This is mainly for the schools that visit the site but I suspect we will all be interested in it.
Have you got any bug hotels?
This post is linked to the #SIXONSATURDAY blog posts hosted by The Propagator