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Regular readers will be aware that Cathie’s Garden Army have recently created a garden at Woking and Sam Beare Hospice which was designed by Valerie Amos and implemented with the help of many volunteers who hold the Hospice dear to their hearts. The next phase was to build the most enormous gabion insect hotel named ‘Bugingham Palace’ by team members!

It is important where possible to provide food and shelter for wildlife throughout the year. Now is a good time to think about providing nesting sites for birds and solitary bees and wasps. During Spring they will be looking for suitable nest sites.

There are many species of bees in the UK and most of them are solitary looking for little holes in which to lay their eggs. They are as important to pollination as the social honeybees and bumblebees.

Within our insect palace we drilled holes in logs of various sizes before placing them in the gabion wall. We also spend many months collecting, cutting and bundling up the hollow stems of bamboo.

Whilst an insect hotel of this size may be a little impractical in most gardens there are other ways of attracting solitary bees to your garden.

Mini Bug Hotels

Many garden centres sell these little houses ready made for you to hang. An easy way to make one yourself if you are cutting down bamboo is to bundle up a few stems and hang them up somewhere sunny. They can even be squeezed into an empty plastic drinks bottle to keep them dry. Another simple way is to drill holes of various sizes into a log. Soon bees will buzz around them and lay their eggs within, sealing up the holes with soil or even a piece of leaf. They then hatch out and begin the process all over again. As a beekeeper who became anaphylactic I was delighted to find out that most solitary bees never sting! We must do all we can to help the bees by planting wildflowers and creating these habitats. 

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