Why and How to Build a Bug Hotel

Yay! The sun has been shining at last for a few days. Well it has been here, ok so yesterday wasn’t as sunny as Saturday but at least it didn’t rain.

If you are wondering what to do today, or next time it is sunny and you want an activity that gets the kids outside, then build a bug hotel! I have one, although some of it needs replenishing; one job at a time, pressure washing paths and re-grouting a patio took precedence over the past two days and now I can’t move, well I can but it hurts everywhere! The top section of my bug hotel has fallen backwards, it didn’t help that I stole the top two bricks and piece of wood for a different project…

Why build a bug hotel?

Lots of reasons, firstly I think they look cool, secondly they can be used to fill dark, damp areas where nothing will grow, and thirdly, and most importantly, they help boost the biodiversity in your garden. It is never too late or too early to learn about biodiversity and food webs and food chains. Added to those reasons it is also a brilliant way to reduce, reuse and recycle!

Lastly, there is the wellbeing and educational aspect of getting the kids involved with gardening. (as long as you don’t overdo it and ache for a week after!)

Fun fact, a single garden can support over 2,000 species of insects, and by building a bug hotel and a variety of habitats you can increase your garden’s biodiversity, and the number of bugs you see in your garden quite dramatically. In turn the raised number of bugs will encourage different birds, frogs and maybe even hedgehogs to visit.

What is a bug hotel?

An insect or bug hotel is simply a layered structure of gaps and crevices to provide a home for lots of different types of mini-beasts, such as ladybirds, bees, spiders and woodlice. It’s a safe space for these insects to overwinter, lay their eggs, raise their young and shelter from predators.

How to build a bug hotel

Once you have decided you want to build a bug hotel, decide where you want to put it and how big you want to make it. Mine is a fairly large one made from old wooden pallets, but they can be as simple as a log pile, or a large ceramic pot plant stuffed with twigs, leaves and pine cones.

Remember this is supposed to be a fun activity to do with the kids so don’t make the construction of it too difficult and the fun can be extended by saving old cardboard, cardboard tubes, pine cones, sticks etc for a few weeks in advance of making it.

As already mentioned mine is made from old pallets, which you can get hold of for free…often you see them in a neighbours front garden ready to be taken to a tip, just knock and asl if you can take it. If you can’t get hold of, or transport pallets, use an old wooden crate with the back cut out, or make your own frame using pieces of timber nailed together. Kids love to play with a hammer and nails, just make sure to supervise them and take H&S seriously!

Once the frame is made have fun creating the layers inside, using cardboard, leaf litter, twigs, stones, bark. all sorts of materials such as engineering bricks (a brick with holes), toilet roll tubes, used plastic bottles- make sure you cut the top and bottoms off, bamboo canes, compost, tiles and plant pots.

Give it a go

Now you know how and why give it a go, there are plenty of websites out there giving facts and advice, I have been lucky enough to see stag beetles near my log pile, stag beetles are the largest species of insect to be found in the UK.

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