So what is an Insect Hotel?
An insect hotel is simply a man-made structure providing accommodation for hibernation, for insects like ladybirds, or a nesting site, for example, for solitary bees. It could also incorporate shelter for frogs and newts depending on the site and structure.
It is created out of natural, often recycled, materials like old pallets, pots and clay tiles. Its size and design very much depends on materials available and the creativity of the builders.
Serving a functional purpose doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to be attractive and fun too.
A bee can provide inspiration….
… for a cut or stencilled motif.
Why build one?
- To supplement the increasing loss of habitats
- To encourage beneficial creatures which aid pest control
- Encouraging biodiversity is good for the ecological balance in the garden
- Fun project for children to be involved in building
- Creating awareness of the life cycles and habits of insects
How to build an insect hotel
Materials required – scout around your shed or garden for recyclable goods, such as :
- Wooden pallets
- Clay pipes or old tiles or tin cans
- Rubble or bricks
- Bamboo, hollow stems, straw
- Old wood, bark, acorns , logs.
- Broken terracotta pots
Remember these should be free of any harmful preservatives or chemicals. Smooth ends and surfaces will protect delicate bodies.
Since the structure will be largely old wood, preferably a framework of pallets,with bamboo and bark, it will deteriorate in time. So providing a a roof and a firm stone base will increase its longevity.
A base of stone, rubble or dry stone walls and old tiles,will provide the cool conditions required by frogs and newts. Siting it near a pond in semi-shade would also be beneficial for them.
You may simply want to encourage insects, siting it near to wild flowers, flowering herbs and shrubs.
Many species of bees live alone and not in hives. They like dry conditions in which to nest – from egg, to larva to adulthood, so choose a warm sunny spot. Drill holes in logs at various diameters from 2 to 8mm, at a slight angle so that they do not become wet. Bamboo canes or hollow stems stacked into clay pipes or old tin cans will work too.
Stag beetles have experienced great loss of habitat – they need old decaying wood, (the larvae feed on rotting deciduous wood for several years); and wood lice, spiders and others can creep in between small piles of bark.
Ladybirds prefer to hibernate in groups so twigs and straw piled into a box on its side will be good for them.
The best way to provide for bees and other pollinators is to provide them with flowering plants from February to November.
So surround your hotel with nectar rich plants and wait for that sweet buzz of summer.