By Judy Kunz, Colorado Master Gardener
Many of us are concerned about the plight of the pollinators and want to know if there is anything we can do in addition to providing native plants to attract them and provide food. The answer is that there are many simple ways to create spaces that will encourage pollinators to nest, reproduce and even hibernate in your yard. Pollinators include bats, bees, beetles, birds, butterflies, flies, hummingbirds, moths and wasps.
While it may sound complicated, building a bug hotel or a bird house can be a simple and fun family project, and many backyards, nearby parks, open spaces and garages have most, if not all, of the materials needed to complete such a project. Design ideas and patterns are widely available on the Internet.
For insect accommodations, start with a simple box or crate (preferably unfinished wood), an old wood pallet or scraps ½” to ¾” thick. With a few nails or screws or water-resistant glue you can build a simple structure with openings and a roof. Be sure to include backing for protection from predators. Materials to include in the box could be trimmed tree branch segments with 3/8” holes drilled in the ends, hollow reeds, twig bundles and dried grasses, used bricks, pine cones and/or pine boughs, broken pottery shards and stones. These materials are what insects need to check in and stay over.
Bobbe Needham, Beastly Abodes: Homes for Birds, Bats, Butterflies & Other Backyard Wildlife, Sterling Publishing, Hardcover, 1995.
In her book Beastly Abodes, Bobbe Needham provides 35 simple designs for building bird, bat and butterfly accommodations. These projects promise to provide hours of family fun, resulting in opportunities to teach about the challenges pollinators face and their importance in the environment.
To complete the accommodations, be sure to include a water source. This can be as simple as a saucer with water in it and a few stones for insects to rest or as elaborate as a water feature with a fountain. Whatever you choose, it should be cleaned regularly and the water should be replaced often.
Additional information for building and managing Pollinator B&B’s can be found here: