I know from experience this present is well received by friends, family and the bees and lacewings, its future tenants! The house will provide not only a Winter shelter for many small creatures including some 200 varieties of solitary bees but year round living accommodation too. These superb insects are an essential part of any garden, they pollinate and in the case of the lacewings consume vast quantities of garden pests such as aphids. Overwintering insects in an hotel encourages them to stay on and multiply in the Spring.
These holes are drilled right through the standard pallet cube/block
Loss of Habitats. Wither the Lacewing?
The stemmed section of the Bee Cosy is for all insects but also hopefully to accommodate lacewings. Why lacewings? Well this hugely beneficial insect is in decline because it no longer has the habitats in which to survive the Winter. The Lacewing has unfortunately fallen prey to the mania for tidy gardens and in particular to the whole army of people brandishing snippers and secateurs, who issue forth in the Autumn to attack herbaceous borders and cart garden debris off to the local tip. Giving someone an insect house means they can still cut off the flower, herb and vegetable stems but these are then just relocated to a handy 'hotel'.
Slightly angry Swallowtail caterpillar amongst the fennel stems.
Gardening for insects means leaving as many habitats as possible available for Winter use. The making of the Bee Cosy is in fact the only time we ever raid the borders to obtain these stems, which will provide a plethora of winter holiday homes for a whole myriad of insects.
When choosing stems and branches to use for nesting tubes, remember to think about toxicity, for example I used elderberry branches as recommended on various sites, although they are slightly toxic. All plants are not toxic to all species.
Finishing off and siting your insect house
Ready for a wrap
In order to help with positioning the Bee Cosy, I include a nail with the finished gift and a simple instruction on the best place to locate it. Solitary bees being cold-blooded need the warmth of the sun, so the Cosy should face south east or south. They tend also to like an uninterrupted flight path when nearing their home but need shelter form prevailing winds. Placing it amongst or near flowers is also a good idea.
Peace over the Hen House and the Bee Cosy!