After reading about Colony Collapse Disorder I thought an insect hotel in my garden would be the best way to guard myself against a bee-free environment. Not only that, but it would be a great way to celebrate Earth Day.
An insect hotel should not only increase my bee population but ladybugs, lacewings and butterflies should flock to my neighborhood. My neighbors keep nice gardens but they are mostly tidy hedgerows and manicured lawns, not much fodder for a butterfly there. So, being the new kid on the block I thought I would rev up the pollen count. Last year, at the Chelsea Garden Show in London, we saw a lot of exciting designer insect habitats. Our favorite was the slate wall filled with books and other fun things from the RBC New Wild Garden.
An insect hotel can come in many shapes and sizes and the amount of work you put into it depends on whether or not you have to look at the finished product. I would have gone for the pallet variety, if we could have hid it behind the garage. But the only spot available for our little four-star boarding house was next to the driveway and clearly visible from the street. So, we opted for a more aesthetically pleasing variety. I just hope all the ladybugs on TripAdvisor give us good marks!
Day 1: Our accommodations needed a sturdy base, so hubby dug two holes large enough for concrete blocks and poured cement to set the fence posts in place.
Day 2: Hubby is master carpenter in our house, so as it was cold I stayed inside and served coffee when needed. He spent the better part of the day building the structure.
We had a few design meetings to iron out details during construction and by dusk the structure was complete. The criteria we used were shelves not so high that the wind would blow things out of the hotel but high enough to stack a couple of logs.
Day 3: Finally, I get to do something besides consulting. I stained our bug hotel the same as our people hotel, um, house. But a dark stain will also warm up better than a light color, so vary the color according to your climate. The west coast of Norway is a little chilly, so I wanted to create the most Canary-Island-like conditions for my heat-loving butterflies and solitary bees.
Day 4: Fill’er up.
The books, vintage Readers Digest, are for lacewings and the straw and bark are for beetles and spiders.
The bark on the roof is just their until we figure out how this baby drains. I did not want to sacrifice any plants until we have that sorted out, but the idea is to get some flowers and vines growing up on the roof. Leave it a little messy under your hotel to attract frogs or what I expect will be my best friend, the hedgehog. Hedgehogs likes a messy but dry place so I have read suggestions about broken clay pots dug down slightly to create a cozy escape for the spiny but snail-hungry little guys.
Thinking about your own insect hotel? Check out my Pinterest Board for some more inspiration.
Moseplassen – one of Norway’s best garden blogs challenged bloggers to write about the humble bumble bee. If you would like more info in norwegian about the plight of the bubble bee check it out!