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Everyone can be an Insect Hotelier

An insect hotel can house numerous insects and amphibians which provide benefits to their habitat. But what is it and can anyone be an Insect Hotelier?

An insect hotel is a manmade structure created from natural resources and we recommend, recycled materials.   There’s lots of scope to play with the shape and size of your hotel bearing in mind what guests you’re catering for.

As winter is drawing in, insect hotels will provide shelter and warmth for many types of insects and provide an ideal nesting habitat. Insect hotels are not just great for community orchards but can also be found in allotments and gardens as well as on roof tops around the globe as they great for encouraging insect pollination.

The great news is that many insect hotels are used by solitary bees and solitary wasps or can be tailor made for insects such as ladybirds and butterflies to hibernate in.  Ideally, insect hotels should be near to native trees, shrubs and wild flowers and grasses, providing food and nourishment.

Who Might Check-in?

Depending on where your hotel is, the materials used and its size, you can expect various guests: wasps, bees, ladybirds, earwigs, spiders, dragonflies, beetles, frogs, newts and much more.

And for those of us growing fruit trees, encouraging earwigs to check-in is a must as they like to eat plant lice which can be a nuisance to fruit trees. Filling a disused terracotta pot with some dry straw or even wood wool can create a 5 star earwig hotel. Bees and ladybirds also like their hotel to be nice and dry, placed in full sun but protected from adverse weather conditions.

Get Building

For inspiration, why not search ‘insect hotels’ online – you’ll be amazed at the wide range of insect hotels or ‘stacks’ that people have created and where!   And if you’re not up for the fun challenge of creating your own hotel, you can buy one from your local garden centre or online….

But if you’ve got some of these materials lying around… why not get building:

  • Wood (logs, planks, pallets and twigs) Bricks (all shapes and sizes but guest tend to like ones with holes!)
  • Plant pots, stones, rubble and sand
  • Wood wool, straw, hay, moss… (all make great warm bedding)
  • Cardboard (corrugated and tubes)
  • Straw, hay, dry leaf litter and moss
  • Bamboo/straws/pipe – (hollow tubes for individual nesting)
  • Polythene, roof tiles and roofing felt
  • Succulent plants as well as dried leaves and shrubbery

You don’t need all of the above but a good mix will help you create a welcoming hotel and secure you some longer-term residents.

Now you have you’re building materials, here’s some further advice on where and how…

Ideally find a flat surface that is well protected but will get a mix of sun and shade

  • Make your hotel visible and also near to shrubbery, of if you have one, a pond
  • Use bricks as your foundation, leaving gaps to use some of the bedding materials
  • Place your wood across the bricks making a stable layer so that you can add more bricks or stones on top, creating the floors of your hotel
  • As well as adding bedding in between the bricks don’t forget to also use your bamboo (or other hollow materials) as this will provide nesting for ladybirds
  • Repeat with more wood…. And then top with logs, pinecones, twigs, etc, providing more capacity for a wider range of insects.
  • When you’re happy with the number of floors and all bedding and nesting materials are in place, it’s important to protect your hotel. Use the roof tiles or a sheet of board covered in roofing felt or polythene to keep your hotel dry.
  • The only thing to decide now, is what to call your new hotel… Beast Western? InsectContinental? TravelFrogs..? The choice is yours!

And if you want to start something smaller but still with a big impact…why not have a go at building a Bug B&B, this website is full of great inspiration.

Building an insect hotel or a Bug B&B will be great fun as well as having a fantastic wildlife impact – Enjoy and we look forward to seeing your photos on Twitter: #HelpBritBloss and on our Facebook page.

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Why Orchards Orchards have played an important role in our communities for hundreds of years, providing a communal space for gatherings and celebrations. Find an Orchard Our ambition by 2017 is to help 100 communities to plant, care for and restore their own orchards. And to get things going, we're focusing on cities and towns in seven parts of the UK