Over the last few years, I become fascinated with pollinator hotels. Partially because of the reduction in honeybee population, but also because when I moved into my home 15 years ago, I was stuck with need to keep native plants in my area. So many of the homes around me are suburbanized, leaving a lot of the wild animals looking for food. I love being able to offer them a refuge of sorts in my garden.
The pollinator hotel pictured above is at the Galena Creek Park on the Mount Rose Hwy to Tahoe. It’s filled with an assortment of stuff to attract a variety of insects to the area. These insects keep the cycle of life going, from pollinating plants to decomposition.
I’ve been wanting to make one in my own yard, so I’ve been collecting information and trying to come up with a plan to do it this year. I’m also attending Pollinator Week in June at UNR to learn more about their garden and which insects I can attract locally.
The biggest challenge, ironically enough, is finding native flowering plants. This seems to be for a couple of reasons. A lot of the native plants seem more like weeds to people, so they are usually torn out and replaced with the more popular plants and the “big box ” stores and larger nurseries and those stores then tend not to sell the see for the native plants they are replacing. The other thing is that as areas get more dense on population, place that the native plant typically flourish get built over.
So who inhabits these pollinator hotels and what do they need?
Here’s a partial list:
Mason Bees, single wasps, and beetles : bricks and drilled logs, and light bamboo rods. (Don’t panic at the thought of wasps in your garden. They serve an important purpose in organic pest control … such as keeping white flies managed in tomato plants.)
Ladybugs : closely spaced boards.
Butterflies: space filled with straw, herbs, honey flowers.
Boring Decomposers: stacked dead wood.
A place to encourage pollinators will include a wide variety of things to nest in, a fresh water source, and protection from preditors. It also needs to be cleaned a refreshed yearly, to prevent disease and illness.
As I go forward during the next few months, I’ll create my own version of the pollinator hotel and share it with you.