Living Generously: Pollinator Hotel for the "Little Guys"

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

One of my New Year resolutions is to "live generously." Which to me means not just being generous with other humans, but doing my best to live in a way that is generous to "all my relations," as my Indian friends say, the multitudes of other beings with whom we share this glorious blue planet.

My front yard prairie-in-development under new snow.... My front yard prairie-in-development under new snow....

One way to be generous is to provide welcoming habitat right around home. Hence my work to restoring the native bunchgrass prairie on the former industrial site where I live, instead of planting a lawn and rose bushes. (Lawns require too much water, chemicals, and grooming; rose bushes are simply deer candy.)

Pollinator "hotel" or nest box. Each of those holes accommodates a different size of native bee, beneficial wasp, or other pollinator. Pollinator "hotel" or nest box. Each of those holes accommodates a different size of native bee, beneficial wasp, or other pollinator.

So when my friends Maggie and Tony Niemann gave me a handmade pollinator hotel for Christmas, I was thrilled. I've always wanted to try one of these artistic ways to provide nest-burrows for the little critters that pollinate my flowers, eat pest insects, and generally make my yard a healthier place.

What is a pollinator hotel? This one is a box about the size and shape of a bluebird box, but instead of a front with a hole appropriately sized for a bluebird and a cavity inside, it has no front, and the cavity is filled with tubes of various sizes, made of various different materials.

A close-up of nest tubes of different diameters in different materials: drilled into dowels and pieces of scrap wood--nothing toxic, plus naturally hollow stems of sunflowers, reeds and bamboo; and that lovely galvanized star! A close-up of nest tubes of different diameters in different materials: drilled into dowels and pieces of scrap wood--nothing toxic, plus naturally hollow stems of sunflowers, reeds and bamboo; and that lovely galvanized star!

(Since Tony and Maggie are artistic, it also has cool tin star decorations, both on the front and on the sides. And even its own tin roof up top.)

So there you have it: one way to live generously and welcome some of the littlest of our relations here on earth is to build them a hotel. This one will get hung up on the east wall of the garage, near the restored willow thicket along the creek, where it'll get morning sun, but not hot afternoon sun. (Thanks, Maggie and Tony.)

Happy New Year to the little guys, and to us all!

Native bee collecting pollen from a blanketflower Native bee collecting pollen from a blanketflower. (By pollinating the flower, it ensures seeds that will feed the goldfinches, juncos and other seed-eating songbirds. So housing pollinators also feeds songbirds, an example of natural generosity.)