“Insects, worms, and other small animals that carry out vital functions for life on earth have declined by 45 percent average over 35 years, threatening human, water quality and food supplies…”
– Steve Connor, “Vital invertebrates decline 45 percent, study finds,” independent.co.uk, July 2014
We have built an insect hotel in hopes to stimulate the declining population of bugs. As a team, we decided to create something that would be suitable for solitary bees, beetles, and a variety of other critters that need a place to rest during the winter months. These bugs help build our gardens, grow our trees, and filter the bad bacteria humans and the environment make. Insects provide food to birds, and they have their own food chain to sustain the circle of life. They take care of us, and now is the time for us to take care of them. If you look outside on a summer night, do you notice as many bugs fluttering around the street lights as you did when you were a child? Unfortunately, as we recalled upon these times, we were reminded that the difference is noticeable. This opportunity to be able to learn about the epidemic of insect life declination has inspired us to act! This is the final product of our attempt to create a safe space for insects to hide, rest, and mate.
Our ideal method of installation would be to use rocks as our base and anchor the piece into the rock formation with pegs which can be attached to the bottom of the insect hotel. This will not only provide support to the hotel and protect it from water damage by lifting if off the ground, but will also serve as another environment for creatures to hide in. The frame is a large rectangle with several compartments inside which incorporate different patterns and textures with found organic materials. Our design aesthetic was inspired by cubism and we wanted to keep it very geometric in order to create an interesting contrast between the rigidness of the structure with the natural shapes and colors in our gathered materials.
Solitary bees like tunnels between two millimeters and ten millimeters wide and six inches deep. We have incorporated tunnels by creating clusters of mason bee tubes to fill one of the rooms. These tunnels are ideal spaces for bee eggs and bee larvae to live and hide in until they are mature enough to live outside their home. Solitary bees are a vital put of our ecosystem because they are very efficient pollinators.
Without pollination, our gardens cannot thrive and in turn cannot support the mammals that rely upon it’s yield.
For ladybugs, beetles, and spiders, we chose to simulate their natural habitats by incorporating gathered materials we found outside. We used sticks, wood chips, dried plants, and leaves. The leaves help keep the bugs warm by acting as insulation against the cold. When we were finished filling the structure, we covered it in chicken wire. This way you can see the twigs and leaves that these certain types of bugs like to nestle in while also acting as a barrier against predators. Beetles and ladybugs are important to our ecosystem because they eat aphids and other problematic insects that can infest crops.
What we learned from this experience is that insects are of major importance to our ecosystem. They contribute to the quality and productivity of our harvests. Bugs are being wiped out with the destruction of their natural habitats and the use of pesticides, but we believe this bug house, and the others created by our peers which you can find in other state parks and trails, are a step in the right direction towards revitalizing the insect population.
To keep this insect hotel functional, some of its materials must be replaced annually. Replacement bee tubes can be found on amazon.com. Leaves and sticks should be replaced after the winter to avoid rot. Although they are more durable and expected to last longer than the other materials in the structure, please use discretion as to when replace wood chips by examining for rot. Wood chips are available at any home and garden store. We decided to spread chicken wire on the front of the box to keep all the material inside. We used a staple gun to stabilize the bottom of the chicken wire, and screwed in the opposite side so we can unscrew the screws and open the wire up. This helps with maintaining the materials we have inside the box. Also, the scorching of the wood will help keep the wood from rotting overtime.
“Grow Wild.” Everything You Need to Know about Solitary Bees | Grow Wild. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.
Vanheems, Benedict. “Insect Hotels – Encourage Beneficial Insects Into Your Garden.” GrowVeg. N.p., 13 Sept. 2013. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.
Being a part of this process has been just short of awesome. It has been hard work, but incredibly rewarding. We went into this project with mutual feelings, and the final product was a humbling result. The both of us had never worked with large machinery, precise math measurements or worked with one another; yet, we created a beautiful piece of art that can educate the public. Nothing can take away that feeling or the learning experience, and it is something we will cherish forever.
When our teacher, Kathryn Martin-Meurer, opened this project to us, mine and Abby’s eyes lit up. We were so excited about helping the environment and eager to participate in a medium we have never explored. The both of us worked together this semester during projects prior to this one, so we decided working together could benefit the project. The first assignment was to propose a cardboard model to the class and to create a sketch through a special software. We met with the DNR of Wisconsin and Katie to talk about our proposals and how the structure could handle the outdoors. The information we received that day was very helpful, and it gave us inspiration throughout the creating process.
Joe, our workshop manager, took us to every machine we could use for our bug homes. We listened to Joe from the table saw to the planer, we regurgitated safety in the shop, and learned to respect each tool you use. The first day of working with the tools, Abby and I were feeling every emotion possible. We dove right in, found our wood, and started working. In class, we were given four days and almost 3 hours each day. We had to give this project extra time, and needed to get together outside of class. That was maybe the hardest and most stressful task of the project: finding time for the both of us to work outside of class. We made it work, and the extra time helped divide our load. We used the table saw, the band saw, sanders, the planer, wood-glue, clamps, mallets, nail guns, drills, and torches.
We were very appreciative of Joe and Katie with their expertise and extra hands to help construct our ideas. Both mine and Abby’s friends and families were a great part of this process, helping us with materials, ideas and carrying items from one place to another. This project has many different fingerprints on it, and it is a beautiful thing that so many people put all their soul into one box to help little bugs in need–to help spread awareness of the drastic decline our insect population. Our bug motel will be installed in a park in Wisconsin, and I truly think it will make a difference. It’s large, full of life, full of information. I hope people will take the time and read our process, and how much we care for the environment—and how art can impact each one of us in a positive way.
Thank you for reading,
Trinity Lee and Abigail Wajer-Guibord