|'Bee and Bug Biome'|
Having talked about getting one for some time, and with a desire to find at least one Christmas present that would serve some useful purpose, we are now the proud owners of a ‘bee and bug biome’ for the garden. Having recently moved, the intention is to make our medium-sized garden as wildlife friendly as possible this coming year and well, we have to start somewhere, so here we start...
|Gardener's friend - a 7-spot Ladybird (Coccinella 7-punctata)|
Hopefully in time this bug hotel should provide shelter to beautiful insects such as ladybirds and lacewings (both friends of gardeners as predators of aphids) and may also provide a home for solitary bees. The guidance for ideal siting is that it should be in a sunny spot facing South or South-East but with some shelter from the worst of the elements. (We have some trellis that will fit the description, it won't stay on the picnic table!)
|Lacewing - aphid predators, with the most beautiful eyes!|
Christmas provided an excuse (if one was needed) to buy a ready-made insect home but of course they’re easy to make, and there are others we plan to make and try out. I was amazed doing a quick internet search at the sheer variety of ideas for creating homes for insects from the very simple to some quite spectacular 'mansions'.
|Under construction - cub scouts making homes for insects|
Our local RSPB Wildlife Explorers group, as one small part of their ‘giving nature a home’ initiative have been showing children how to make a simple insect home/shelter using a sturdy cardboard tube filled with natural items such as straw, hay, moss, leaves and pine cones, as well as rolled up corrugated card. A lot of fun for the kids to make, great for insects and arachnids, and a little bit of mess involved too!
|Solitary bee on Tansy wildflowers|
A friend has a hugely successful solitary bee hotel, when I saw it last summer there were no vacancies and it was literally buzzing with all the activity of solitary bees coming and going. Although this was a bought bee hotel, it is essentially just a block of wood drilled with a few dozen holes 6/7 millimetres in diameter with an apex roof – easy enough to recreate.
We’ve also inherited a small log pile tucked away at the back of the garden. Whether intentional or not, it looks like it should be a great spot for insects and amphibians to shelter and/or hibernate - a mix of larger and smaller logs and cuttings in a partially shaded area of the garden (so hopefully retaining humidity sufficiently for any insect/amphibian inhabitants without becoming too cold). We'll have to wait and see if we have amphibian visitors to this garden, previously we would see both common frogs and common toads in the garden (despite not having a pond there - that's something on the list of things to do here for spring), and a few areas of garden were left to go a little wild with areas of longer grass, and piles of fallen leaves left in situ to benefit them.
|Common frog (Rana temporaria), well camouflaged amongst fallen leaves in our old garden|