Today I set about a little project for the 8th day of 30 Days Wild. There are a number of bird boxes already up in the garden and they're always used, so I decided that I'd make an insect house to go out there, too. I rather fancy the look of them because they're shaped like bird boxes, so they're still quite quaint, but they're made up of bamboo or filled with small holes for bugs to crawl into, and I think it makes them look quite eye-catching simply because you expect it to be a bird box rather than an insect box.
I decided to try making one for 30DaysWild, but I got so excited about trying something really, really new like wood work that I forgot to take any pictures of the process. I feel really silly about it because the project is quite different from the crafts usually on my blog, but it was for that very fact that I got so excited and rushed ahead, forgetting all about my camera until it was already put together. It's not hard to make, though, so the instructions should be enough, and if I make another in the future I'll be sure to remember and update this post with them. For now, however, this will have to do.
You will need:
A wooden bird house (unused - or make your own)
Optional: gloves to protect against splinters
1. Remove the face plate of the bird house. Some bird houses are nailed together, others use glue and some are jigsawed together. Typically, the bird house I used was nailed together making it probably the hardest to take apart of the three. But I managed by using a small crowbar through the hole of the bird house and prying it apart. Unsurprisingly the top half of the face plate suffered from the tension against the crowbar and the edges of the plate where the nails were splintered, too. Fortunately it was nothing that couldn't be fixed.
2. If you're making half one half another, take the bird house's face plate and saw it in half. Use some sand paper to smooth the edges. Then take your drill and make a number of small holes in the wood about the size for ladybirds or woodlice to crawl through.
3. Using hot glue, fix the drilled piece of wood back into/onto the bird house where it came from.
4. Take your bamboo and cut it to make several hollow stems that fit into the top of the bird house above the drilled face plate.
5. Put the bamboo into the house and arrange them to fit in as many as possible - it doesn't have to be neat. Sometimes it looks better if it's rough and haphazard; nature itself is rarely mathematically perfect.
6. Take one piece out at a time and drizzle hot glue onto the back end of them, reinserting them where they came from. Be careful with the glue, it will be hot - hence the name - but it also hardens fast which is why you should fix the bamboo in one at a time. Don't be too liberal with the glue, either. It's very strong, and as you're working with wood it will have good grip on the rough wooden surface.
7. Sand down the surface of the insect house and make sure it's nice and tidy.
Painting the insect house is optional. I rather like the natural look from the bare wood, but it's certainly a nice opportunity to add another splash of colour to the garden. Some insects may well be more drawn to a colourful box - flowers are brightly coloured to lure insects, after all. If you fancy attempting to draw specific insects, have a look at the chart in this leaflet to see which colours are likely to lure which animals.
I'd love to see any insect boxes you make or decorate, and considering the problems bees are facing in the wild, it would do a lot of good. Bees only sting when they're threatened so if you leave them be (no pun intended) then a few bumble bees in your garden won't be an issue. Never wave your hands around or try to bat them away if they get close to you. They'll consider it a threat - I know I would if someone came towards me and started flailing their limbs or trying to hit me. Bees also die once they sting, too, and they're well aware of it. They won't do it unless their hive is threatened. Typically, a bee is more likely to rise onto its rear legs and try to make itself look bigger and intimidate you than it is to sting.
Bees are massively important for wildlife as they're big pollinators. They visit so many flowers that they're highly effective at spreading the pollen around from plant to plant and allowing them to reproduce, and more plants means more fruits and vegetables which in turn is food not only for us but for other animals.
Or you coud always just buy some bee and insect houses. There are a number of sellers on Etsy that make and sell wonderful ones such as Wudwerx, LilAcornDesign and Mulberry Garden Designs.