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Bug Hotel

This is the first update in a little while so I will bring you up to speed. We have now reached 155, with a sighting of our first swifts of the year, in our quest to see 400 species in our garden in a year. We are a bit further behind then we wanted to be at this stage, but I think that is mostly down to the unseasonably cold weather we've had this spring. Hopefully we will get back on track when the weather finally warms up.


A few weeks ago we had a go at building a bug hotel to create more habitat for our local mini beasts. I thought I would talk you through the steps we took to build it and maybe encourage you to have a go building your own. It's a great thing for kids to get involved with too, although definitely under supervision. Having said that it's so important to let kids get stuck in with nature and even better if they're having fun too! Anyway I will leave that discussion for another time. If you do want me to write a post about getting kids into nature let me know.

Here is our little bee hotel or should that be a bee 'n bee? Anyway we looked at how well that worked and decided to make something bigger. We started off with what I think used to be an old computer desk to gave the bug hotel a framework. Something like a palette or a wooden box would also work well. Either way you need to create a solid structure to place everything into so that it's stable and weather proofed. Here's a photo of the first stage.

To begin with dad screwed a back to it and reinforced the base with slats of wood cut to fit. I should add, in case you didn't know, my dad is a skilled carpenter and makes harps for a living so it's fair to say he knows what he's doing! He's just turned our shed into a workshop so this seemed the ideal project to test it out. That is stage one of the hotel and we very quickly realised it was a great way to use up bits we had laying around, having just cleared the shed. Dad used a drill, but I'm sure hammer and nails works just as well. It is also important to mention that it's a good idea to create some ventilation holes for air to circulate.

Here's the photo of the next stage, adding the materials for the bugs to make their homes in. There's a huge verity of materials you can use, but my advice is to use what's available to you. The other thing to remember for a successful bug hotel is to ideally used mix of different items to attract a wide variety of creatures, as different creatures need different things. I would also advise against using too much plastic, for two reasons really: one it's doesn't look particularly aesthetic and more importantly two it's stops air from circulating. Things like plastic bottles can be useful though, which you could use as a bee nester with bamboo canes. Good things to use include, bits of wood at various sizes, sticks and/or bamboo cane, straw or grass clippings, pine cones or like us coconut shells, cardboard and even bits of terracotta pot just to name a few.

Here's the next image and you can see it's really filled out. You will notice we have drilled lots of holes in wood and this is to attract solitary bees, which use these holes to nest in. They emerge each year from these holes in spring and then use them to lay their eggs in the cavity sealing them up with mud or, if you're a Leaf-cutter Bee, you guessed it leaves! It's great watching them go in and out of the holes! Although not all solitary bees use holes in wood some go underground like mining bees and others in wall cavities like mason bees. They also make up the majority of bee species in the uk with just under 250 solitary bees out 270 species, so they are really important pollinators that often get overlooked.

Here's the completed bug hotel and the last thing was to add some waterproofing so it will last the test of time. We used old roofing felt after we took this photo, which was originally intended for our log shelter. I hope you've enjoyed reading how we built our bug hotel! Please do show me your bug hotels if you get inspired to build your own or maybe you already have one. Until next time! We're in Norfolk next week so the count will be on hold so hopefully we'll keep adding more creatures with some better weather when we get back.

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