How To: Make a Bug Hotel

You may have heard of the term “bug hotel” before, but if you’re not familiar with what it is, it’s essentially a dedicated space in your garden where bugs, insects and other small creatures can hide, live, or even hibernate. Common creatures that use these make-shift homes include ladybirds, hedgehogs, toads, bees and woodlice.

You can buy prefabricated hotels, but if you’re feeling crafty we explain how to create your very own insect hotel.

How To: Make a Bug Hotel

What Do I Need For My Bug Hotel?

If you’re looking to build your own, you need about 3 to 4 hours during spring, summer or autumn and some materials. These can include old wooden pallets, planks of wood, roofing tiles, terracotta or plastic pots, bricks with holes, and roofing felt. Some natural garden materials that are also useful are straw, moss, dry leaves, bark, logs, pinecones, sand, soil, and hollow bamboo canes. It may also be beneficial to have some twine to bind together parts of the structure to avoid toppling in strong winds. However, if you are building this in a corner of the garden against a wall or existing structure this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

How To Build a Bug Hotel

When you come to make it, be sure to choose an area where the ground is level and firm. You may find that different creatures will prefer different parts of the garden. For example, cool, dark damp places may attract toads and woodlice, whereas bees will prefer a warmer spot in the sun. If you are growing fruits and vegetables, be sure to keep the hotel a good distance away from them!

The structure doesn’t want to be any more than 1 metre high, and using wooden pallets with bricks at the bottom creates a stable, strong framework for building the rest of your hotel.

How To: Make a Bug Hotel

Once you have sorted the foundations and added more pallets and wooden planks to the structure you can begin to fill in the gaps with your other materials.

Bark and small pieces of wood are good for crawling insects such as spiders, beetles and centipedes.
Hollow tubes such as bamboo, reeds or drilled wood are ideal for bees. You can also build a small separate bee hotel structure if you want to help the bee population.
Creating larger holes with stones and tiles provide a space for frogs and toads who will help eat pesky slugs.
Straw, sticks and dry leaves are perfect for ladybirds (who will feast on Aphids), bugs and beetles.
If you’re looking to attract hedgehogs to your garden, adding a hedgehog box into the base of the hotel will give them the perfect space to hibernate.

Once you have added all of your materials to the structure you will need to protect it from the elements. You can add a layer of roofing felt and staple it to the planks or pallets if possible, and then layer on a few roofing tiles or wooden planks.

You could go a step further by adding greenery to the roof by adding rubble and soil on top and scattering some wildflower seeds onto the soil. Once these bloom, they will be a great source of food for bees, butterflies and other pollinating animals.

If you’re stuck for some inspiration, then the wildlife trust has a handy infographic you can use to help build your bug hotel. Similarly, why not pop into Holt Garden Centre and pick up some materials and speak to our staff about curating your hotel for different types of creatures?

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