Build a Bug Hotel
A bug hotel is part garden art and part winter habitat for beneficial insects. Here is how to make one for this weekend project.
Before we dig into the project this week please raise your glass and toast to Weekend Project #52!
For one full year now I have created some sort of garden related project that in most cases are easy, stylish, thrifty, handy, all-natural, or just plain fun. Sometimes they are all of those things. If you have been following along you’ve seen the handmade holiday gift ideas, natural skincare products, garden projects galore (pea trellis, green-roof birdhouse, and upside down tomato planter), seed starting tutorials, ways to bring the garden inside (branch coat rack, branch coasters, sun print napkins), and ways to enjoy it outside (citronella CANdles, mason jar solar lights, concrete garden planters & stepping stones).
In addition to weekend projects, I have put up a few more projects each week: canning recipes, crafts, book reviews, and various other ideas to make yard and home one big joyous bundle of garden. Please take some time to scroll through and enjoy these projects and try a few. I love to get your e-mails and photos on projects you have tried. Please keep them coming.
I still have a whole bunch of ideas (more ideas than time!) and so I will continue to put up 2-3 projects a week and have many holiday ideas for this coming fall and winter. Keep visiting and make sure you subscribe, follow on Pinterest and Twitter, and like Garden Therapy on Facebook to keep up with all the garden, food and craft ideas. And here’s to you for reading:
Now back to our regularly scheduled program…
Build a Bug Hotel
Often times these decorative displays of plant material intended to provide shelter to overwintering insects are called bug hotels or insect houses. Perhaps they should be called bug hostels because the rooms are available to all but they do need to bring their own sleeping bag. Ok, so bugs don’t have sleeping bags but some do bring their eggs or larva (sorry) for winter protection and gestation, while others have been known to fill up the hole with mud behind them. Setting up different protected areas in your bug hostel will let the bugs find a room that suits them and prepare it as they wish.
Many garden bees are ground dwellers so they won’t have a need for a hotel room. They will dig a little hole in the soil for winter hibernation and you may see some groggy bumblebees when you are out digging in early spring if you wake them too early. Solitary bees, however, like to nest in hollow stems for the winter. Contrary to their title, they will often pack a number of bees in a stem before closing off the opening with some mud and then having a good snooze until spring.
Ladybugs like to overwinter as large groups in between dry plant material. Some twigs packed together give the ladybugs plenty of room to squeeze in and wait for warmer days and eating aphids. More about ladybugs as garden helpers in this post on attracting beneficial insects.
Beetles, Spiders, Lacewings and Friends
Many other insects will have all sorts of nesting needs. By providing a variety of plant material into your bug hostel you will encourage all sorts of garden friends to lodge. How can you be sure that you are only providing shelter for beneficial insects? Well, you can’t. It’s a tough world out there and at times bad bugs (earwigs – yuck!!) will move in. Some may even eat their neighbours. You can’t control what happens in the bug hostel, just trust that if you provide enough space for the good guys, you can create balance in the garden.
- Cut bamboo pieces, stems, twigs, seed heads, pinecones, wood shavings, lichen
- Using 3/4″ thick cedar or other rot resistant wood. Cut the following pieces:
- top: 5 1/2″(h) x 5 1/2″(w)
- bottom: 5 1/2″(h) x 5 1/2″(w)
- back panel: 12″(h) x 5 1/2″(w)
- left panel: 12″(h) x 4 3/4″(w)
- right panel: 12″(h) x 4 3/4″(w)
- Weather resistant screws between 1 1/4″ 1 1/2″ long. #6 or #8 size
- Hanging hardware
1. Cut cedar boards to the dimensions listed using a table saw or have them cut at your local hardware store if you don’t have one.
2. Screw the box together by drilling pilot holes first through.
3. Arrange plant materials within the structure, packed tightly so it will stay put, but with lots of available crevices for the bugs.
4. Affix hanging hardware and hang in an area of the garden that is close to where you want the bugs next season.
Thanks for visiting Weekend Project #52.