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Make your own Bug Hotels and Bee Houses

Bug Hotels

Various insects are always on the lookout for safe, dry places to either hide over winter, store food or lay eggs. Each species has different preferences of size and texture. To offer shelter to as many different species as possible, it is a good idea to have a mixture of materials available. These should be crammed fairly tightly into a container that will help it stay dry, like a plastic lemonade or squash bottle with the funnel top cut off. There should be a drainage hole on the other end of these and six holes to take strings if you are hanging it, four above and two below. The holes can be done (carefully!) with a heated skewer or tent peg. It is best to thread the strings through before filling.

The materials in the middle are any mix of:
Hollow grass stems
Short pieces of bamboo
Not -too-tightly crumpled or rolled newspaper
Bundle of twigs
Dry leaves
Dry bark
Chunk of rotten wood
( I have lots of this at the bottom of my drive,
Woodsia House, Main Street. Please help yourself!)
The materials are best put in segments, like slices of
a very tall cake.
The finished hotel can be hung horizontally from a tree or fence by the upper two loops, and stabilised with the lower one ( and a drawing pin?) so it does not swing around too much.
Bee Houses
These are very similar, but more exclusive!Solitary bees are in particular decline. They like tubes 2-10mm, and about 15cms (6 inches) deep. This is a great time of year to go out harvesting dead grasses, bracken stems, and hogweed branches which are hollow.  Broken bamboos from the garden are fine, as long as they are dry. The bees don't like spiky edges, so ideally smooth off the cut ends with sandpaper.  The lengths can be tightly packed into a lemonade / squash bottle body, as described above, ideally about 3cm longer than the canes to help keep them dry.  The bee hotel is best  fixed  horizontally in a sunny position, at least 1m off the ground. Solitary bees are not aggressive and are fine with children and pets. Each bee works independently, but they don't mind having close neighbours. It is best to put it out in March when the females start hunting for burrows. Many of their eggs with hatch over the summer, but some rest over the winter as eggs. In October, you could move the hotel into a shed or garage, dry and unheated, to protect the eggs inside, and move it out again next March.
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