I would imagine, like me, you have been having a bit of cupboard stock take over the last week, digging out all those ancient and forgotten tins of oddities like pink grapefruit slices and marrow fat peas that you inexplicably bought in the distant past.

But do not throw the cans in your recycling bin!

Upcycle them into homes for wildlife.

Bee or bug house:

  • Use the contents of the elderly tinned product (or not as the case may be!)
  • Thoroughly clean the tin can and remove the label if you wish or you can keep it as natural decoration!
  • If you want to place the tin onto a fence or shed or even the side of your house attached it at this point by drilling and screwing through the base but of course get help with this if you are of younger years!
  • Alternatively you can secure it with wire or string to the side of a post or under a branch or even just poke it into a bush. These all work just fine.
  • So what to fill it with? There are natural and manmade options here. For Bees: Either find some bamboo canes and cut then into 15cm (6in) pieces ensuring that a hollow end is visible or you can even use last year’s Nettle or Teasel   The holes do not need to be all the same size either. The other option is a chance to use up any of those nasty plastic straws that you may have lurking in your top draw or ancient Cocktail Cabinet.  Do not go out and buy them for this purpose but give the ones you have the the opportunity to be put to a better use than a milkshake or strawberry daiquiri.  Mix them with the natural tubes.

Teasels from my garden

Nice hollow stems of different sizes once cut

The wall of my house!  Bigger tins... multi-function insect apartments

Some bigger 'tubes' are sealed with a now dried leaf and contain a dormant Leaf-cutter Bee larvae while the smaller ones are sealed with tree sap by Large Headed Resin Bees which are tiny!

Leafcutter sealing the tube with a circular piece with the egg and some food safely inside

Nearly done - having lined it with ovoid leaf pieces

It takes the Large Headed Resin Bee longer to seal the chamber!

  • For other bugs: Even easier; you are trying to make nooks and crannies so stuff the can with some dead leaves on the bottom, perhaps some pine cones if you have any to hand. In fact anything that will fit.  It does not have to last forever so even a rolled up piece or corrugated cardboard will be great!

A multi-purpose home with fircones jammed in for spiders and other invertbrates.  This version actually has a standard sized tin can attached in side a large catering size bean tin from work.

Hoverfly Home:

  • This is even easier... Some Hoverfly species (and many other insects) develop in water and other than a pond (if you are lucky enough to have one) they often find it difficult to find still water in which to lay their eggs. You may have heard of things called Rat Tailed Maggots – well these are actually hoverfly larvae and the ‘tail’ is in fact their breathing tube that they poke through the surface meniscus to take in oxygen. It also just happens to be their bum... but that is another stoary.
  • So, after cleaning you can either attach vertically them to trees or fences and such like or just stand them up around the garden.
  • Pop in a little bit of soil and top up with water. I always add a stick or something so that any emerging Hoverflies can clamber out and pump up their wings in teh same way that a Dragonfly would.
  • Oh and you can also use old plastic milk or drink bottles cut in half for this.

What could be easier?

Myathropa florea - a cool Hoverfly recognised by the Batman mark on the back!

And Helophilus pendulus - another species that will say thank you by pollinating your garden flowers

And my plastic bottle versions are now in their third year!

So there you have it; a little something that you can do to help the smaller denizens of your own wild space.  If you do not have a garden, bee homes live quite happily on the outside of a building so give it a go!

Enjoy and good luck!