Wildlife Gardening - Building for Bees

(c) Paul Hetherington

Create Habitats for Bees and Bugs

Helping out our invertebrate friends doesn’t have to stop with the things you plant. Loads of invertebrates such as beetles, woodlice, spiders and centipedes live, breed or hibernate in dark hideouts in spaces amongst or under logs, stones or dead vegetation. A bit of constructive clutter or artificial bug houses can provide great hidey-holes for insects.

There are a few things you can do, and like many of the best things for our bugs, some of them actually just involve doing less.

–          Leave things to rot. Compost heaps and leaf piles provide warm, damp environments for bugs and the end result is compost that’s great for your garden.

–          Relax and wait for spring before you clear up. Hollow stems and seed heads can be snug winter hideaways for small insects and spiders. Some seed heads can also be an attractive addition to a winter garden. Just leave them where they are until spring!

–          Make a rock pile. Lots of us have little piles of rocks, bricks, clay pots or paving slabs hidden away in a corner of the garden. This is your excuse to just leave them where they are (or make a new one) – that pile is great for insects to hang out in.

–          Build a bee hotel. That sounds harder than it is – all you really need is a saw, some twine and some bamboo canes. Find out more about how to build a bee hotel. Alternatively, make a bumblebee nest (shop bought ones don’t often work, but they’re easy to make). Or, if bees aren’t your thing…

–          Build a bug hotel. With a bug hotel you’re not necessarily just looking to attract bees – there are all sorts of invertebrates looking for a place to stay! But they can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. Find out more about bug hotels here.

–          Create a deadwood habitat. Nearly two thousand sorts of British invertebrates need dead wood, and use it in many different ways. Deadwood habitats don’t have to be more complicated than stacking a few logs. Get some ideas about deadwood habitats here.

–          Make a pond. It’s hands-down one of the best things you can do for wildlife. Like many of the things you can do for bugs, this can be as small and simple or big and elaborate as you like. Either way, it will attract aquatic invertebrates and provide a breeding ground for pollinating hoverflies. Find out more about making your own bug-friendly pond here.

–          Create a bog garden. It’s just a shallow wet area planted with marsh plants for wetland bugs, and a great way to do something constructive with a leaky pond or area that’s already boggy.

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