The vanishing population of bees and other beneficial insects is a threat to gardens and to ecological balance in general. Attracting insects to our garden that are useful for pollination and the reduction of destructive pests provides a chance to sync with nature. An insect hotel is a man made structure built from natural materials and intended to attract and provide shelter for beneficial insects. These hotels are intended as nest sites and some to allow for hibernation. They also add an aesthetic quality to any landscape.
The first ‘hotel’ to be built in the Canmore Community Garden was a 2014 project using clay tiles and a variety of natural materials readily available. It was located under one of the cisterns to provide protection from harsh elements like driving rain and intense sun. There is evidence that the ‘hotel’ has been occupied; you will see that some of the holes that were drilled in wood blocks are sealed. This is likely solitary bees who have laid their eggs and then sealed the hole to protect them. The second ‘hotel’ project began in 2015 and is ongoing. Used pallets already in the garden were the foundation and various materials are being added as time goes by. There is talk of a green roof being added for protection from rain and to provide habitat for wild flowers and grasses that the insects are drawn to.
Community gardeners are invited to add to and help maintain the insect hotels. Wood, rock, tile, reeds, bamboo, rotting wood, bark, terra cotta shards, brick, twigs, straw, grasses, leaves and logs or wood blocks with holes drilled into them – a variety of materials will attract a variety of beneficial insects. Use recycled, untreated natural materials and don’t forget to decorate – options are limitless.