Tiny Island Paradise

I love bees. These little pollinators are responsible for so much of the fruit and flowers we enjoy. Even more than honeybees (which are not native to the Americas), native bees are vulnerable to the loss of native flowers and homes. Bees do drink water, and they need a place where they won’t drown trying to get a drink. Butterflies, too, need a place to sip, though they do better on sand than on gravel. And think of the fairies, who need a beautiful place to relax! In an area like the one near my home, there isn’t much in the line of flowers or watering holes for all our little pollinators. To help all my tiny friends, I wanted to build my own bee oasis.

I was inspired by this Pinterest project. It features gravel for bees to stand on, sand for the butterflies, and a couple large rocks for sunning, all held in a plant saucer. Given that this project involved standing water, I wanted to build in an easy way to empty and replace the water in the saucer. For as much as I like helping insects, mosquitoes and the diseases they can carry aren’t something I want to encourage much.

Counterclockwise from lower left: Saucer, rocks, plastic saucer for insert, decorative glass, sand

I decided to use a plastic saucer as an insert to hold the sand. This would make cleaning easier, since I could lift out the sand and rinse the glass separately without washing the sand down the drain. As a bonus, I could make it look like the bees had their own little private island! Maybe I could attract some fairies who wanted a tropical vacation.

Trim the plastic saucer to about the height of the terra cotta saucer

Trim small saucer to size, then dump everything together.

Put saucer and glass beads in the terra cotta saucer
Add sand to smaller saucer
Add rocks for butterflies to sun themselves
Do not disturb ants while finding a good spot! Not pictured: the giant pile of ant eggs that I saw briefly under the rock.
Place away from ants and add water!

This was a unique project in that it came out almost exactly the way I pictured. However, it also doesn’t work the way I intended. The water evaporates almost instantly — the saucer is great at absorbing water and letting it evaporate, leaving none for the bees and butterflies — so I find myself refilling it several times a day. Additionally, even the wasps seem to prefer the drips from the sprinkler faucet not two feet away. I have yet to see a single insect come for a drink. No fairies coming to sunbathe either. Might be time for a miniature lounge chair and relocation to the back porch. Ooo, and tiny cocktails!


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