I decided this year to build a large bug hotel for as many insects as possible as I have always liked them ever since reading about something as simple as drilling a few holes in a post can attract mason bees. So that first year I drilled a few holes and then watched the mason bees checking out each hole to see if it was suitable. I was not successful that year but hooked and the following year built the one below and it sat on my allotment for a few years and more recently sits outside one of my shared apiary sites and the oak block each year has four or five plugs of mud in it so I know it has attracted a few mason bees.
I have sat and watched the mason bees and other bees checking out this hotel it’s just lovely watching them going through the selection process and the red mason bee is a particular beautiful bee. It’s also interesting to see different types of bee at different times of the year as some of the insects have very short seasons.
So last year I managed to salvage a reasonable amount of fence posts from a local park that was replacing their rather old and tired fence with the intention of using them for something but had no idea what at the time. They are a mix of oak and replaced softwood. The oak have been the original posts and the softwood replacements over time. I have more plans for the oak as despite it looking rather weathered just below the surface will be lovely nice oak timber but I will encounter nails ect if I want to use the timber.
So I decided to use six of the oak posts to construct a strong frame to infill with lots of different shapes nooks and crannies for a whole host of insects to hopefully make use of and plenty of holes for my favourite red mason bees. I decided not to use the softwood posts as I suspected they were pressure treated timber and a bit counterproductive to the aim of the exercise.
It was important at this stage to fit the frame in place as it was already heavy and difficult to move. So a couple of holes dug up against the wall and a simple levelling to the mortar course of the bricks (still looks out of level) and phase one is complete.
So phase two involved in me collecting and fitting inside the frame logs of various sizes from my log pile, some straw from one of my apiaries that just so happens to have a few bails, an old terracotta plant pot, the rotten ends of the oak posts, three roof tiles, some thick pieces of bark and a pile of rotting apple logs that someone gave me last year and destined for the wood burner but sprouted some lovely fungus so I left them in the garden as it looked so nice. The rotting apple logs were partly burred into the ground as I understand is good for stag beetle larva. The whole thing topped off with a few cedar shingles left over from a job I did in the garden and a bit twisted but dont think the insects will mind.
The whole thing is approximately nine inches deep and most of the holes are about four and half inches deep of varying sizes from 3mm to 9mm diameter. I have left room for more holes if a specific size is needed.
I have to be honest and say apart from Red Mason bees and the obvious regular garden insect visitors I don’t know a great deal about what may be attracted to the hotel and perhaps I should invest in a reference book to see what I may notice over the year but simply just love watching the insects checking out the holes.