Did you know that there are about 10 million species of insect in the world and they all need somewhere to live? Having a bug hotel in your garden is a great way to see and look after wildlife during the winter months. By encouraging the right kind of bugs and insects to our outdoor spaces, in return they will pollinate our flowers and keeping down unwanted pests during spring and summer. What’s more, with half term approaching, it’s a great activity to do with the children to get them away from their screens and reconnect with nature.
Read our step-by-step guide on how to build your very own bug hotel using natural materials.
What you will need
A lot of the materials that you need to build your own bug hotel can be foraged from your own garden. Twigs, dried leaves, straw old bricks and stones, pinecones, bamboo canes and bark are perfect for insects to burrow into and to protect them from predators. Bug hotels can be any size you desire and the structure of can be made from wooden pallets, broken plant pots or old roof tiles. It’s best to avoid using plastic as it will encourages mould to grow as moisture condenses.
We recommend you place your bug hotels in a quiet corner of your garden that’s sheltered from bad weather. Try to find a spot in your garden that has both shade and sun. Insects like to feel safe and cosy whilst bees thrive in the sun so a bit of both is best - west or south facing is ideal. If you have a smaller garden, your bug hotel may be better fence mounted, rather than building a larger creation.
Building a large bug hotel
- Make sure you start building on a flat area in your garden. Create a sturdy base using bricks on a level, even surface.
- Layer your wooden pallets on top of the base, not too high so that it remains stable.
- Start filling in the gaps with everything you’ve gathered from your garden:
- Hollow bamboo canes for bees.
- Leaves and straw for beetles and ladybirds.
- Rotten wood and bark for centipedes, spiders and woodlice.
- Stones and broken plant pots for newts, frogs and toads.
- Once you have built your layers, your hotel will need a roof which can be constructed from old roof tiles to keep it as dry and warm as possible.
Building a small bug hotel
If you want a smaller hotel that can be mounted onto a wall or fence, you will need some rot-resistant wood that can be cut into the pieces to make a top, bottom, back and sides.
- Cut your boards to the desired sizes then screw the box of the hotel together by drilling holes through first.
- Arrange all your garden materials within the box, packed tightly so they will stay put, but with lots of available crevices for the bugs to explore.
- Affix your hanging method and place in an area of the garden that is close to where you want the insects next season, like a fence post, tree or wall.
Plant some nectar-rich flowers close to the bug hotel to help attract butterflies, bees and other pollinating insects. Consider blooms such as honeysuckle, verbena, roses, clematis, foxgloves, hollyhocks, geraniums, lavender and edible herbs with flowers, such as thyme, chives and borage are all guaranteed to bring pollinators to your garden.
A bug hotel is a great way to help nature, no matter the size of our garden. All you need to do now is sit back and see what creatures move in!