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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Scavenger Hunt - Building an Insect Hotel

Building insect habitat turned into a big scavenger hunt.

My goal was to reproduce this hotel with materials from my yard.

In addition to the bumble bee box and holes drilled in wood, I also needed some other tubular structures that bees might like to nest in.  Many designs use bamboo poles for this.  After a trip to Lowe's to supplement my existing inventory, I cut the poles into 5.5" lengths.  This corresponds to the width of the shelving I was using as part of the structure.

Since bees use mud to seal their nests, I purchased a kitty water and put it near the structure.  I filled the bowl with soil and made really nice mud.  The automatic waterer should keep it moist during our hot weather (as long as I keep the reservoir full!) Hopefully butterflies will use it for mud-puddling too.

The lacewing house became the biggest challenge.  Everything I could find said to use corrugated cardboard rolled into a cylinder.  Just a few years ago, this would not have been a problem.  Trouble is that cardboard has been completely replaced by bubble wrap.  Even my shipping department husband couldn't score me any type of cardboard that I could easily roll.

I decided to go ahead and try the bubble wrap.  I worry that it will not have the right air circulation, but it's worth the experiment.  I rolled a layer of newspaper with it to try to emulate cardboard - we'll see if that works.

I made a plywood box to hold the rolls.  The slits in front were made with a jig saw.

Many plans call for some sort of clay or mud bricks for solitary bees to nest in.  I have a bunch of 4" pots so I thought I could just fill them with mud and let them dry in the hot Texas sun.  However, one of my master gardener friends now sells coconut fiber bricks.  I bought two from him and used the coconut fiber to fill these square pots.  I cut the top rim off one pot so it will nest in the other.  The holes at the bottom make great entry points.

The shelf unit I used had two shelves that were just the right height to tuck these pots into.  I used some cedar shakes to make sure they were crammed in there tightly.
Now that I have all the nesting structures built - we can assemble it!  More on that in my next post.

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