Making a bug hotel is a great activity to do with the kids. It gives them the opportunity to learn more about what creepy crawlies they might find in the garden. It also provides a safe haven and shelter for insects, and can help encourage useful critters to your garden.
There are many useful bugs in our gardens, and as a keen gardener and fairly new beekeeper I understand the importance of some of our insect friends. Bug hotels can be a great way to provide shelter and little nooks and crannies for them to reside and overwinter in. Not only are lots of insects involved in pollination, they can also be useful in ridding gardens of unwanted pests such as aphids.
There are lots of different designs of bug hotel, from simple hanging ones utilising old plastic bottles, or more complex towers using old wooden palettes, bricks and other materials. The design you ultimately choose will depend on what materials you have available, what space you have and the location you want your bug hotel to be in. If your not sure what type of design to go for, then I have some top tips to think about when designing your bug hotel.
We decided that we wanted our bug hotel to be hung on the fence in the fruit and veg garden. We thought this would be where lots of bugs would be attracted to and also where they would be most useful.
So if you would like to see how we made our bug hotel then read on, or pin it for later!
Pin How To Make A Bug Hotel
Top Tips For Designing A Bug Hotel
- Think about what space you have in your garden. Smaller gardens may be more suited to a small fence mounted hotel vs a larger creation.
- Location in your garden is also important. You need somewhere fairly sheltered, and somewhere the kids aren’t going to accidently kick a ball at! Lots of insects like dark damp conditions, but others like solitary bees like the sun. As we wanted to attract both we went for a partially shaded spot where the top of the hotel recieved some sun for most part of the day.
- If constructing from timber, you want to use untreated wood. Equally, if you plan on painting your finished bug house then you need to use non toxic paint and only paint the outside.
- You want to use natural materials as much as possible regardless of the design you choose. So bark, terracotta pots, twigs, dry leaves etc are ideal.
- Research what types of substrate you want to use. This is good to do with the kids. All bugs like little cracks and crevices but some substrates are better suited to certain insects. For example solitary bees like hollow tubes, so short lengths of bamboo are perfect. Dead work and bark is ideal to attract beetles and spiders, and ladybirds like dry leaves, pinecones and straw. Corrugated cardboard rolled up is ideal for lacewings.
How We Made Our Bug Hotel
Daddy was in charge of the construction with assistance from the kids. First we made a sqaure box from some lengths of untreated timber.
We decided to divide ours into sections, so made some diagonal lengths of timber which were screwed into place.
Next we made a roof with another two lengths of timber, and then put a plywood back on it to keep the substrate in.
We decided to paint our bug hotel for aesthetic reasons. I used the same paint I use on my bee hives which is non toxic. We also kept the inside of the bug hotel paint free so it was a natural as possible.
The next stage was to mount it on our fence in our chosen location.
Now it’s time to fill it! The kids went around the garden looking for different substrates. We filled the top with short lengths of bamboo cane that Daddy cut up. The other 4 compartments we filled with dry leaves and pinecones, sticks and dead wood, bark and finally some rolled up tubes of corrogated cardboard.
As we were filling it up we used some wire to help keep all the substrate in. Hopefully it wont deter the inescts from moving in!
That’s it! What do you think of our bug hotel? Do you have one in your garden? I’d love to hear about them in the comments if you have.