Creating a solitary bee and beneficial insect hotel in your backyard
An insect hotel provides habitat and nesting opportunities for many of our beneficial insects and solitary native bees. City landscapes are often built up, covered in hard surfaces such as concrete and bitumen, and lacking in grasses, flowers, shrubs and trees – all making it anything but hospitable for beneficials. By creating wildlife habitats in our own backyards, including the addition of an insect hotel or two, we are filling a need for local wildlife and promoting biodiversity in suburbia.
Some native beneficials are communal but many are solitary, including countless species of native bees. Some nest and hibernate in hollow stems, while others, such as blue-banded bees, nest in exposed areas of sandy clay soils. This is why an insect hotel includes a range of rooms for its guests.
Some of the rooms you may like to include in your hotel:
Placement of your hotel:
It’s all about location location location! Situate your hotel in a sunny position with open flight access and that is protected from wind, rainfall, and hot afternoon sunlight during summer. Ensure it is well secured for the comfort of guests. Avoid putting your hotel in areas where European honeybees are living as they are territorial, and you may also risk introducing pest & disease problems.
Plants to compliment your insect hotel:
To encourage beneficial insects and bees to visit your garden include a range of plants, especially natives, with a diversity of flower colours, shapes and sizes, and which produce both pollen and nectar. Similarly, grow plants that beneficials can live in and use materials from to build their homes. For example, plants with pithy stems or bushy habit.
Dealing with unwanted guests:
Monitor your insect hotel for spiders, introduced wasps and other unwanted guests. If practical remove them, otherwise you may need to seasonally replace contents of your bee bundles and PVC hotels.
Promoting biodiversity, including encouraging birdlife to your garden, will also help keep unwanted pests in check.
Other insect-friendly considerations:
There is such a thing as being too tidy in an insect-friendly garden – insects appreciate areas of natural litter, sticks, logs and other related ‘imperfections’.
Reliable water sources throughout your garden are also an essential inclusion – areas of damp soil and mulch, as well as shallow drinking stations filled with pebbles, will transform your budget accommodation to five stars plus.