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Monday 21 March 2016

Making insect hotels as a workshop at Southmead hospital

Insect hotels are basically compartments filled with things that insects like to hide in; dried plant stems, leaves, rotten wood etc.

I worked with Esther Coffin-Smith, the sustainability officer at Southmead hospital to give visitors, staff and patients at the hospital a chance to fill their own hotel and take it home with them.

The boxes were made in advance using exterior plywood and heavy-duty EDPM rubber. These materials were all recycled offcuts very kindly donated by the Bike Shed Company. To fill them, we had strips of recycled corrugated cardboard (which lacewings like to live in), rotten wood, bark, dried stems of cow parsley and hogweed (not hemlock), pieces of bamboo and leaves of London plane (Platanus x acerifolia). 

It was great fun to create the patterns of stems and other materials and we also had twenty-nine children from St Theresa's School join us to build their own hotels to take home.

At one point, someone began to play on a nearby piano which was a very nice addition! It's the first workshop that I've run that has had Ragtime music played as an accompaniment.

The boxes each had two holes drilled into the back, so that they can be hung up in a sunny spot to attract solitary bees or a shady place for other insects. 

Ideally, I would also have put metal wire mesh over the front of each box to prevent birds from pulling out the fillings looking for the insects hiding within. Obviously with large groups of children the cut metal could have caused injury, so it was thought best to leave it out of this workshop. A coat of exterior varnish on the outside of the boxes may have helped them last a bit longer outdoors as well. Thanks Esther for inviting me along for the day.

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