Making smiles (and bug houses)

Our bug house building workshops bring people together, build confidence and raise awareness of the importance of recycling to help our garden wildlife.

Building bug houses from rescued wood means that we’re always on the look out for scrap timber. So when we heard that the Wildside Activity Centre in Wolverhampton had a load that they were looking to find a new home for, we were there like a shot.

Chatting to Steve, it was great to hear about all the different groups that use the centre and I explained to him that we had run a couple of simple bug house building workshops for children and were in the process of developing longer sessions for all ages and abilities. I asked if there was any chance of running one at the centre and he told me that there is a group of eight adults with learning disabilities who go along every week who would enjoy what we were offering. We arranged a date (20 November 2018) and our preparations began.

Handmade bug house shells, drilled wood, bamboo and filling ready for the workshop

The session began with a lively conversation about bees and pollination – with at least half the group agreeing that pollen makes them sneeze – it turns out that hay fever is something a few of them have in common! After we’d shown them a few examples of the bug houses that we build, they got down to the serious business of building their very own Homes for Bugs.

Examples of a bee hotel, ladybird home and butterfly house from Homes for Bugs
Leaves, pine cones and bark make great places for ladybirds to rest, nest and shelter in
Wendy sorting through and deciding what to add to her bug house
Sera is a sessional worker at the centre and has worked with the group for around two years – here she is getting stuck in
Evie and Kamla getting creative
Cyril contemplating what to add to his bug house next

And after around 40 minutes of bug house building fun, the bee and ladybird homes were ready to be shown off with the group deciding that it would be nice to leave a few at the centre and to take the rest home with them.

Joy’s lovely smile and fab bug house
Lynn’s masterpiece
Brilliant handmade bug houses

The rest of the morning involved creating handmade wooden Christmas decorations, woollen hedgehogs (we build hedgehog houses too) and a little bit of therapeutic colouring in.

Kamla and Timmy getting to grips with hedgehog making
Handmade Christmas decorations
Joy’s perfect colouring in
Everyone loves a bit of colouring
Tracy showing Timmy how the glue gun works
Hedgehogs and bug houses
Bags full of handmade goodies

After three hours of crafting, colouring, winding wool and bug house building the group had plenty to take home with them and they all agreed that they’d had a really good time.

As an added bonus, we were privileged to meet the Deputy Mayor of Wolverhampton, Councillor Claire Darke, and Jim Barrow who kindly shared our workshop on Twitter…

Although we’ve run smaller sessions with children before, this was our first ‘official’ bug house building workshop and it’s safe to say that it won’t be our last… we’ve definitely got the ‘bug’ and hope we can share our passion and enthusiasm with you soon.

We’ve created a number of activities designed for all ages and abilities so if you think that a group that you’re involved with would enjoy our workshops, please get in touch for a chat about what we can offer, we’d love to hear from you.

See you soon,

Steve

 

Homes for hedgehogs

Here at Homes for Bugs we’re passionate about recycling as much waste wood as possible to build fabulous new homes for our garden wildlife. Over the last 18 months or so we’ve built hundreds of bee hotels, ladybird & lacewing homes and butterfly houses… and

now we’ve started to expand our range.

 

After numerous requests we decided to try our hand at building hedgehog houses to see if we could help the plight of this gorgeous creature whose numbers are reported to be in serious decline.

The first few that we built sold within minutes of us posting them on social media and so we got to work building more.

One of which Laura bought and placed in her garden in the hope that she’d get a little visitor. She covered the hedgehog house with leaves and put out some cat food to attract any passing hogs… and three days later she got a lovely little spiky resident.

Needless to say, since we posted the picture on social media we’ve had quite a few more requests for our handmade hedgehog houses. Bug houses will always be our main thing but looking after all of our garden wildlife is crucial and we’re determined to do our little bit to help.

In their ‘make a hedgehog café’ feature, the RSPB recommend that to attract hogs you can feed them:

  • Sunflower hearts
  • Chopped nuts (unsalted)
  • Wet cat or dog food (not fish- or beef-based)
  • Crushed cat biscuits
  • Cooked potatoes
  • Minced meat (of any variety).

We’re on a mission to raise awareness about using rescued materials to give wildlife safe and secure homes where they can rest, nest and shelter, and we have developed a number of workshops to get as many people involved as possible.

These can be tailored to suit all ages and abilities so everyone can get involved and we can adapt them to be included in children’s birthday parties or as an alternative team building exercise for you and your work colleagues.  If you would like to find out more or have a chat about how we could adapt a session for you please email steve@homesforbugs.co.uk

Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Steve

There’s bees in them houses

Back in August 2017 an email dropped into our mailbox inviting us to an open day at a local nature reserve. Ian Barrie, the chair of the Friends of Eardington Nature Reserve (FNER) had seen our stall at Bridgnorth Handmade Market and was suitably impressed enough with our handmade bee hotels and bug houses that he wanted to offer the invitation. We gladly accepted and added it to our growing list of events.

Ian was in the process of applying for funding to create a solitary bee village at the reserve and, as well as attending the open day, he asked us if we could build 12 bee hotels to add to the mix. We’d only starting building bug houses a couple of months earlier and were dead chuffed to be asked to be part of the creation of an actual bee village!

A few weeks later, the funding was in place and we got to work… under the watchful eye of our little friend.

The bee hotel frames were built from recycled hardwood off-cuts (supplied by Ian) and were filled with blocks of drilled hard wood and bamboo.

We delivered the bee hotels soon after and over the next couple of months, we got regular updates from Ian, and as springtime slowly started to appear we began looking forward to seeing our bee hotels in position.

On June 3, 2018 we turned up at ENR with our stall and travelling bug house building workshop and were absolutely in awe of the work that had taken place to create a vibrant bee village, full of many different species including the Plasterer bee, Ivy Bee, Red Mason bee and Ashley Mining bee

There were mounds created specifically for burrowing bees, bee posts, recycled washing machine drums, and our very own bee hotels – each one sitting, pride of place, on their own fence post.

It was brilliant to see that many of them were being used by the solitary bees at the reserve. You can tell when you have Red Mason bees nesting in your bee hotel when the holes are sealed with mud.

The female bee packs pollen (and a little nectar) into cells and lays an egg on top of this food pile. She then creates a mud wall to seal the chamber and moves on to the next one until the whole tube is full and, as you can see from the pictures, the bees at the reserve have been busy!

This was enough to make our day at ENR a brilliant one… but as the day went on, things just kept getting better.

Workshop

It was great to have conversations with people who were really interested (and very knowledgeable) about wildlife in general and specifically solitary bees. And it was particularly pleasing to see the amount of children who wanted to learn more.

This was the second workshop that we’d run (you can read about the first one here ) and it was brilliant to see everyone getting involved in building bug houses to take home, and some to leave to create ENR’s very own community bug hotel.

 

 

Everyone was having such a good time, we couldn’t help but add our own little creations too…

If you’d like us to come along and run a workshop at your event, please get in touch – we’d love to share our knowledge and encourage more people to learn about the wonderful world of bugs.

Summertime Gift Market

Following the success of our Springtime Gift Market we’re doing it all again.

Despite the best efforts of the Beast from the East and Storm Emma our event in March this year proved to be a big hit with shoppers and traders alike. So much so that many of the stall holders are coming back at the end of July – hopefully without the snow this time!

There’ll be a good selection stalls (indoors and outside) – offering a bit of something for everyone. And because we’re hosting the event at The Claregate Pub, you can also grab yourself a drink and bite to eat in-between browsing the stalls.

It’s not just about buying stuff though – we’ve got the fabulous Greyhound Trust coming along with some of the hounds. The RSPB will be there too with their interactive stand, consisting of giant bug hotels, hedgehog homes and wildlife magazines for children and their families.

Here’s a taste of who is coming:

If Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland are your thing, you’ve got to come and say hello to Tommy’s Treasures and have a look at their official Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland merchandise.

 

 

Misgraceful Jewels and Scarves will be us joining with her beautiful fashion jewellery and scarves…perfect for gifts or just to treat yourself.

 

If you’re looking for something a bit different for your children’s party, come and say hello to Peggy’s Party Boxes.

 

Come and grab some pick ‘n mix from Jadez Jems and see what other goodies they have on offer too.

All About Accessories will also be joining us with their fashion handbags.

 

The extremely talented Animal sketches and portraits will be here again. Available for personalsed commissions he’ll also have a a selection of prints for sale.

 

Scented Harmony – Gorgeous ‘smellies’ including bath bombs, handmade soaps, oil burners, melts and granules.

 

Come and find out more about the RSPB and get involved in some of the activities at their interactive stand, consisting of giant bug hotels, hedgehog homes and wildlife magazines for children and their families.

 

Say hello to the hounds and find out more about the fantastic work the Greyhound Trust does.

 

Dream Dayz will be outside showing off their chainsaw carved fairy houses, owls and toadstools.

…and we’ll be there too (obviously) with Homes for Bugs – Handmade bee, butterfly and ladybird houses and our fairy doors and accessories.
Handmade bug houses, garden signs and fairy garden accessories
Our handmade bug houses come in all shapes and sizes and offer solitary bees, ladybirds, lacewings and butterflies somewhere safe to rest, nest and shelter.
Our handmade fairy doors, tables and chairs are perfect for any fairy garden.
Our new range of butterfly houses are proving to be pretty popular.
Come and say hello, we’d love to see you.
As you can see, we’ve got a great selection of stalls lined up and we hope you’ll come along and enjoy a lovely afternoon with us.
Please like and share the event of Facebook by clicking here to help spread the word.
Looking forward to seeing you there hopefully.

 

Watch out, fairies about!

Our handmade insect houses are going from strength to strength as our reputation for building unique homes from reclaimed wood grows. But, as any growing business knows, you need to diversify and continue to add new ideas to appeal to different audiences.

A friend of ours has a huge talent when it comes to creating  gorgeous handmade fairy doors. We’ve added a few of these to our bug houses which have proved really popular with all ages.

The interest that our fairy door bug houses have generated sparked Tracy, my wife, to indulge her love of all things fairy by trying her hand at making essential accessories that no self-respecting fairy should be without.

As I was building Christmas bug house orders in the December sunshine, Tracy was perfecting the art of making tiny fairy bikes, stepping stones and the cutest table and toadstool themed chairs. She used to make her own jewellery and has always been really creative so it was no surprise that she perfected the art in no time… but that’s not to say that I wasn’t massively impressed by what she’d created.

It’s not just me that’s impressed either. We took the newly made fairy stepping stones, tables, chairs and bikes to a Christmas event at Northycote Farm in Wolverhampton on 3 December… and they went down a storm! And since sharing the pictures on social media, we’ve been inundated with orders from people wanting to treat their fairies to some handmade goodies.

Recycling wood to build handmade bug houses for beneficial insects will always be at the core of what we do, but now that we’re moving into the world of fairies who knows what will be next on the agenda. Watch this space to find out.

Our online shop will be coming soon, but in the meantime please get in touch if you’d like to have a chat about ordering your handmade fairy garden essentials, or one of our individually designed bug houses.

 

 

 

Bug houses come in all shapes and sizes

 

We’ve been working hard over the summer, rescuing wood and using it to build handmade bug houses that cater for all tastes.

Our ‘ugly’ range have proved really popular with gardeners and allotment owners who want practical bug houses where bees, ladybirds and lacewings will nest. Although some of the wood used in building these insect houses is rotting in parts, the frames are solid – and provide good, essential shelter for the nesting insects.

Not ugly, but certainly not for the faint-hearted, our scary range of bug houses have caused quite a stir over the last few weeks. The coffins are packed with pine cones, twigs and leaf litter and make the perfect place for ladybirds to spend the winter. Our haunted houses are strictly for bugs only – full of holes for solitary bees to nest in and loads of nooks and crannies that offer other beneficial insects plenty of safe places to rest, nest and shelter in.

One of our most popular ranges is the good old Tudor style bug house, with many people buying them as birthday and Father’s Day presents, house warming gifts and, more recently, the more organised have been buying them as Christmas presents.

Neck and neck with the Tudors is our Balamory style range of bee and ladybird houses. Especially popular with children, we’ve designed and built various different styles – all of which have gone down a storm with our customers (and the odd gnome or two).

And our latest addition of handmade bug houses are already proving to be really popular with all ages. Our fairy bug houses make the perfect home for beneficial insects such as solitary bees and ladybirds – not forgetting your garden fairies.

We’ve had loads of fun over the last few months and are looking forward to seeing our handmade bug houses find plenty more new homes very soon. We’ll be at a number of craft fairs and markets showing off our designs between now and Christmas and we’d love to see you. Take a look at our online calendar to find out where we’ll be, and come say hello.

We’ve also started taking orders for Christmas so if you’d like a custom-made bug house, please get in touch for a chat. We only use reclaimed wood to build our insect houses so it’s guaranteed that no two are ever the same – meaning that you (and your bugs) will be receiving a totally unique, one-of-a-kind home.

To have a chat, or to order your very own handmade bug house please email me at steve@homesforbugs.co.uk

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Before you go, come and have a look at our ‘About Us‘ page to find why Homes for Bugs was born.

 

You’ve inspired us

We love rescuing wood and making lovely new bug houses out of it. Over the last few months we’ve been making and selling loads of different designs at craft fairs and markets right across the Midlands and have just secured a regular spot at Bridgnorth Sunday Handmade market.

It’s really great that people like what we do, and the feedback we get about our handmade bug houses is always really positive. But we’re not just about making and selling.

A short while ago we were invited to get involved in a community day at a local allotment where we hosted a really successful bug house making workshop (you can read all about it here).

During the day we met loads of lovely people but one family in particular have kept in touch with us since the open day – sharing their brilliant bug house creations that were inspired by our workshop.

As you can see from the fab photos below, Tabitha and Harriet have been having a great time making some fantastic new homes for the bugs in their garden.

These brilliant photos were sent to us by Charley, Tabitha and Harriet’s mum and when we asked why they were so interested she said:

“The kids love making them and I can see that our garden is going to be full of them!

“We are building them because we love bugs and nature and we love and respect all animals. I think it’s really important for children to grow up respecting other people and animals.

“Hopefully the world will continue to be a diverse place full of different species if we show our children how to live respectfully. We need a future full of caring people who will look after the planet and then teach their children how to do the same.”

And it doesn’t end there. Dad, Pete (Mr Bodger to his students) ran a summer school bug house making workshop of his own and shared the results with us on Twitter. Watch the video below…

It’s brilliant knowing that we’re inspiring others to make homes for the insects in our gardens… long may it continue.

 

If you’ve been busy making your very own homes for bugs, we’d love see what you’ve been up to. Come and say hello on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and share your pictures with us.

We’ve got the workshop bug

 

When we made our first bug house back in March we never for a second imagined that we’d be running interactive workshops just a few months later. But that’s exactly what we were doing at the weekend… and what a fantastic day it was too.

I recently approached Creative Wolverhampton to let them know a little bit about Homes for Bugs and they kindly helped to promote us via their Facebook page. In the meantime we were contacted by Moya, one of the admins on the page who asked if we’d be interested in getting involved in an open day at Boundary Way Allotments and Community Garden in Warstones, Wolverhampton.

It wasn’t something we’d thought about…we’ve been happily making and selling our bug houses to friends, family and at craft fairs – and workshops just weren’t on the agenda. But once the invitation was there we couldn’t wait to give it a go. So we got to work on building some bug boxes out of scraps of wood we had lying around. The idea was to show that you can use any old bits of wood to create something that insects would love to call home.

We ended up with 24 empty boxes and all we needed then was the ‘filling’ to help the bugs feel really at home. We cut some wood to size and drilled holes to give solitary bees somewhere to nest. We then filled a box full of pine cones, twigs, leaves and bamboo…and we were ready to build.

We really weren’t sure how it would go but it didn’t take long for us to realise that the day would be a success. As the open day was in a community garden we thought it would be a great idea to use any individual ‘rooms’ created during the workshop to build a bug hotel. The idea being that this would encourage people to come back and check on it to see what insects have moved in…they could even add more rooms to the hotel over time.

Everyone really enjoyed thinking about what types of insects would use the holes, nooks and crannies and it was really interesting to see the different designs that people came up with. As we don’t use any glue in our bug houses, I explained that part of the challenge was to create an insect ‘room’ that was tightly packed enough so the filling didn’t fall out, but loose enough to allow insects to enjoy their new home. The challenge was gladly accepted as you can see from the pictures below.

 

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The designs were fantastic, and as you can see from their faces, everyone had a really good time creating some fabulous new homes for bugs.

 

 

It was brilliant to watch the bug hotel grow throughout the day and really lovely to see everyone who got involved being more than happy to add their ‘room’ to it.

 

 

The day was such a success that we’ve now been well and truly bitten by the workshop ‘bug’ and we’re looking forward to our next one already.

If you’re planning an event that you think we could add something to, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

We’ve gone ‘international’

Since making our first bug house back in March this year, it’s fair to say that things have gone a little bit crazy.

We started by using up any bits of scrap timber we could find but demand has grown so much that we’re now constantly on the look out for wood to rescue and turn into fab new homes for those all important garden insects.

Our latest finds include a load of garden decking and some old fencing that were destined for the tip.

 

Here are just a few of the bug houses we’ve made from the wood in the pictures above:

 

Most of our sales have been made at craft fairs and through friends and family but we’ve also had a fair number of orders come through our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts and as the word is spreading, demand is increasing.

Scotland

Just recently two of our bug houses were bought as gifts and we were asked to send them out by post – using MyHermes courier service they were sent off to their new home…in Scotland. Much to the delight of their new owners Alex and Summer.

We’ve got to be honest, we’re a little jealous of the location our bug houses have found themselves in – such a lovely setting.

We hope the bugs in Scotland realise how lucky they are to be the first to have one our individually designed Homes for Bugs outside of England!

Come take a look at some more of our customer photos in the gallery – maybe you’ll be inspired to get your very own bug house.