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Friday, 26 May 2017

The cheapest and simplest way to make a bug hotel for your garden


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Bug Hotel - cheap and easy to make
Gardeners have an important role to play in helping bees and other insects survive. There are lots of ways to help them. This weekend, why not get your kids to help you make a bug hotel, using whatever is lying around. You don't need to spend any money, and you don't even need to use a hammer, or a single nail. And you'll be helping to protect all sorts of species of bee and other insects by giving them somewhere to live.


Most people realise that pollinating insects need our help. Many natural habitats across the countryside have been destroyed by mass agriculture, housing development or pollution. But we rely on pollinators to fertilize many of our food crops and without them some foods are likely to eventually become either scarce or increasingly expensive if farmers end up having to bring in commercial pollination services. This carries an additional cost, but also a risk of further endangering the wild bee population. So giving insects a home in your garden is a really important contribution. You can buy plenty of bug houses at the garden centre, but it's even more fun if you get the kids to help you rummage round the garden and make your own from what you find. It couldn't be easier!
 

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Use whatever's lying around
What to use
This is the random collection of objects we salvaged to build our bug hotel. It includes broken plant pots, off cuts of wood, stones, bricks, hollow plant stems, bits of bamboo cane, cardboard, sticks and twigs, pieces of slate, bits of deck board and bits of plywood. You can use almost anything, but here are some pointers as to what is best:
 





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Layers of twigs and other materials sandwiched between
 bits of wood make a great bug hotel
 
Things that are hollow are an ideal place for certain insects, including some bees to lay their eggs. We used canes and stems, corrugated cardboard and also two bits of deckboard placed against each other to form a hole between the ridges of the boards. 
 Thin flat items can be stacked on top of each other. Insects will use the crevices in between to hide from predators, shelter in winter, or to nest. We used pot crocks, slates and plywood.

 
Avoid anything that has been chemically treated, as this can be toxic to the creatures you are trying to protect.
 
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Solitary bee nesting in a recess on a blackboard!
To prove that almost anything can be used, here is a picture of a bee setting up home in a recess around the edge of my children's outdoor blackboard easel. It turns out the holes containing the screws holding it together are just the right size and shape for this particular species. It just shows that anything can potentially be used to provide the right habitat. 



GREEN FINGERS TIP
GREEN FINGERS TIP: Insects need some warmth so site your bug hotel so that it faces the sun. A South facing wall is good. East or West facing is ok. Try and avoid a North facing aspect. Find a way of positioning it a few feet off the ground if you can too. This is a good height for insects flying around your garden to find it.
 
 

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The foundations - a pile of stones and a wooden board
Our bug hotel is on top of a pile of stones against a South West facing wall. The base is about 18 inches off the ground. We made it quite tall so most of it is around the recommended height. A couple of wide flat stones wedged in place provide a firm, flat foundation, on which we placed the first plank of wood we had.





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Use cardboard, stones, or hollow plant stems
We built the hotel up in layers, sandwiching different materials between planks of wood at each stage. The planks are supported by wooden blocks, offcuts from various places. If you can drill holes in these, then that's even more places where insects might be able to make their home. Make the holes various sizes to suit various creatures. Building your hotel up like this means you can make your bug hotel whatever size and shape you like.




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Bug hotel roof made from bark
Finally, put a roof on to keep it as dry as possible underneath. This can simply be a final plank of wood. We built ours up using small blocks which we then covered in bits of bark.










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The finished Bug Hotel

With accommodation like this you are bound to attract all sorts of insects. Look out for the ends of hollow canes or the holes in bits of wood being blocked up with mud - this means someone has moved in!

To ensure the insects seek out your hotel, you can make sure your garden contains some of the plants they will prefer. There are some suggestions for bee friendly plants in this post by Julie at London Cottage Garden
 





So get out there this weekend and build your own low cost, sustainable bug hotel. It's a really easy way to help protect insects, and learn about them at the same time. I'd love to see what amazing designs you come up with so please post a picture of your bug hotel on my facebook page
 
Tammymum
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2 comments:

  1. This is exactly why I love blogging, I can honestly say a bug hotel is something I would have never ever thought to do or even know how. I think my girl would really love it, I know she loves doing forest school at pre school so perhaps I need to take more inspiration from this post and give it a whirl with her! Thank you for sharing it at #familyfun

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    1. Great to read that you like the idea. Please do have a go, it really is as easy as that. I'd love to see the result so I hope you'll post it on my facebook page so we can all see how you got on. Looking forward to it!

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