93 days to go to National Insect Week
Mini-beast mansions are basically larger versions of bug boxes and as a result they often require a bit more space and planning to put together. However, as mini-beast mansions can provide a varied range of nesting and resting sites for insects, any extra effort in construction will be much appreciated by a rich diversity of visitors and residents.
Browsing for images of ‘mini-beast mansions’ on the web should bring up lots of good examples that you could take inspiration from. Just like bug boxes, mini-beast mansions come in a range of types and can have different names. As a result, if you really want to do your homework before building begins, it’s also worth surfing the web for ‘wildlife stack’ and ‘insect hotel’ (sometimes also used to describe smaller bug boxes).
There are also some very good websites that provide tips and instructions to help with planning and construction for mini-beast mansions. Some good examples include the RSPB gardening section and the Wild About Gardens page on how to ‘Build a bug mansion’.
The BBC website is (once again) well worth a visit, where a full colour mini-beast mansion fact-sheet is available for download, along with fact-sheets for other insect-friendly projects including ‘beetle buckets’, ‘bee cafes’ and compost heaps. The RHS website offers an equally good 3 page download for mini-beast mansions, including photos of several nice examples. Alternatively, if you simply can’t wait to get started, then why not try my quick and easy ‘four-step guide to a mini-beast mansion’ below.
STEP ONE - Location
Find a spot in the garden to build your mini-beast mansion. A sheltered position in sun or semi-shade will be best for most insects and a flat surface will make building easier.
STEP TWO - Foundations
You can use whatever materials you have to hand here, but remember that untreated wood is always best. Pallets stacked on top of one-another make a great ‘pre-fabricated’ shell for your mini-beast mansion, but the same effect can be achieved with bricks and wooden planks, or many other materials.
STEP THREE - Filling
You can use all sorts of materials to fill your mini-beast mansion. Try to use a variety of ‘fillings’ as different insects will have different needs. Straw / leaves / garden cuttings make good packing material and a mix of pots / twigs / bamboo / logs will create lots of nooks and crannies for insects to shelter in.
STEP FOUR - Finishing touches
To make sure that your mini-beast mansion is as snug as possible for its inhabitants, try to make sure that the roof is rain-proof. If you really want to offer 5-star facilities for your 6-legged guests, why not also plant some insect-friendly flowers nearby!