Social housing for wild bees

What can you do for insects in the garden?

Nurseries for wild bees can be bought, too. They look similar to a bird nest box. The many small holes lead to the living-pipes. (Source: L. Domdey)

Who does not think about the local singing birds when he hears the words “bird nest boxes” in the first place? For many decades we try to facilitate the settlement of  cave incubating birds like titmices. Not least because we hope that they get useful as natural insecticides in the garden.
However, who does want to settle a variety of animals as wide as possible in his garden, has to take care of other groups of animals, too. Meanwhile you know how nesting aids for mammals, wild bees, earwigs, and other insects must be designed.

Source: L. Domdey

Nisting aids are a crook and therefore a substitute for missing and lost natural nisting possibilities. Of course they are often very effective and the real friend of nature will be delighted of the successful settlement of a rare wild bee  species in his garden as well as of tits or hedgehogs in his garden.
Often we don’t even have to construct nisting aids artificially but it is enough, to not remove it. This happens often when we make a sweep: Not later than in fall the gardens are cleared. Rotten shrubs and hedge cut are composted at the best case. But only the old and seemingly death plants offer a habitat for many animals.  What disturbs our conception of order, often still contains a wealth of live. Who does know that the stalk of a flowers shrub is used as a hibernation place for butterfly caterpillars, millipedes and ichneumon flies, anyway? Or a mullein: She needs two years until she delights us with her blossoms. In autumn she presents herself in brown and ugly. Is that  reason enough to remove it?
Who leaves it standing, is able to enjoy the visit of birds in the Winter. In the following year the first wild bees, which are mostly smaller than the honey bees , settle on the standing stalks. However it takes another year until the first young wild bees hatch out of the stalk. Two years we have to endure the view of the stark (and the critical glances of the neighbours). Not only the shrubs are settled by small animals: Places where some old branches lay, are made for bugs, centipedes and slaters to appear. Ants build their nests beneath the stones and hedgehogs settle in bruchwood piles. The untidier the garden is, the more animals it delivers some living space. In order to find a solution that makes the garden attractive for animals while not making it look like a salvage or junk yard, you nearly need a horticulturist. Settlement attempts of microbes are, of course moribund, if insecticides and other pesticides are used in the garden. These tools are a taboo for the real organic gardener anyway.
But how can you purposefully make your garden tempting for specific animal species? Let’s begin with the bees and other hymenopteras.  Wild bees and bumblebees do fulfill an important task in the garden. They even  pollinate the blossoms of the crops at the times when the wild bees can’t be active anymore due to the weather. You can help wild bees by bundling cavernous stalks and shrubs and hanging them at a fitting, sunny place.  Or you drill holes of 2-10mm diameter and 2-10 cm depth into pieces of wood (oak or beech) Such holes are used by the  solitary wild bees as breed  depositions. The pieces of wood are – hung up in the sun – even then accepted as nesting aid when you hang them up on the balcony of an block of flats.

You can help terrestrial bees and bumblebees by creating several small plantless surfaces, e.g. by raising some sand. Hornets do often settle in sheds or tree holes . Many people are afraid of them and expel them – totally unnecessarily. These animals act, despite their buzzing, peacefully and are much less likely to sting than e.g. wasps. And the sting isn’t dangerous – except for allergy sufferers.

Other insects enrich the life in the garden, too. Ground beetles or ladybugs are seen as useful creatures in the garden, others are feared as vermin. But the categories vermin and useful creatures are practically outdated.  Every insect plays a role in the food web, it only becomes harmful when it comes to mass propagation. The best way to prevent it is by  fostering natural enemies.

Ladybugs, besides the hoverfly grubs the dread of the aphids, we can simply foster by letting stand larger bundles of old grass. Fruit farmers know that earworms are an effective device to keep insects  that are unwelcome on fruit trees in check.  Therefore you often put flowerpots filled with straw, grass or wood wool on trees, in which animals settle down preferably.  Earworm may search the Dark, but you can confidently consign that they prefer human ears to the realms of fantasy.
Lizards can be preferably expected in sunny stone gardens. Who lays out a dry stone wall with natural stones e.g. at a slope, has good chances to watch animals that love it warm. The limbless blindworm is also counted to the family of lizards. You most likely find them in the garden under organic material, preferably near the dung heap. Who composts kitchen scraps, grass clippings and other material accruing in the garden, does not only help the blindworm, but also a variety of other creatures. They contribute to the production of worthy humus fertilizer out of our waste.

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