We've had loads of ladybirds in the garden already this spring and I'm hoping it's at least partly due to my having left standing all our dead hollow-stemmed plants to act as potential hibernation sites. I've left up things like fennel, dill and other umbells and apart from being great for hibernating insects, they also look pretty attractive through the winter months.
I figured any extra help I can give would certainly be worth it, especially as I aspire to create a garden that is buzzing with life, full of beneficial insects and so is well able to keep any pest outbreaks in balance. So I've also created a little bug hotel.
This is made out of cleared umbel and allium stems, which I've cut down to size - in this instance about the length of a brick (as that is making up the sides of their little shelter). I then bunched them up and tied them securely with string to prevent them moving around as the bugs climb in.
I placed my bundles between bricks and then I've given them a roof to keep them dry. I've used some old roof tiles we had lying around, but anything water proof would do - some wood, slate or even icecream tub lids if nothing else is to hand.
I've positioned it according to advice from the RSPB - west facing and around a metre above the ground (north facing would also be fine). This is an ideal orientation for ladybirds and I want as many of those as I can get so they'll eat all my nasty aphids.
Solitary bees will hibernate in similar constructions and of course they're great to have around for any fruiting crops you might have as they're fantastic pollinators. But they're definitely sun lovers and so prefer a bug hotel with a different orientation - facing south east to south west and in full sun. They also don't like a through draft, so make sure one end of the hollow stems are set against some kind of backing surface. It's best to get these up for when the bees first emerge in early March, so unfortunately I'm a bit late now. A project for next spring!