How to build a bug hotel and attract Wildlife into your garden

The Big 'Bug Hotel' Project HOPPERS HOTEL

Bringing Wildlife into Your Garden

One of the best things about having a garden is that it’s a great place for wildlife to live.

With a bug hotel you will begin to encourage a whole community of wildlife to move into your garden, because it’s not just a 5 star hotel for creepy crawlies.

Bug Hotel with Bricks and sticks

Here’s a video from the RSPB to show you just how easy it is to bring wildlife back into our gardens, on a smaller scale.

So when is the best time to build a Bug Hotel?

Bug hotels can be created at any time of the year, but try to get one made in time for winter so that your new friends will have somewhere cosy to hibernate in the colder months.
They make the perfect hideaway for hedgehogs, frogs and toads, solitary bees and bumble bees, ladybirds and all sorts of other bugs that help to compost the garden waist, it also provides the perfect alternative to building a home in and around your precious veg plot.

Close up of Damselfly

Our Grand Bug Hotel Plan

1/ Choose your material

2/ Select a site for your Bug Hotel

3/ Construction and building up the layers

4/ Adding a roof

1/ Choosing Materials

The main structure in this example requires 2 wooden pallets and 6 bricks as it’s quite a large hotel really. A smaller version can be seen in the RSPB video further down the page.

Pallets can be found for free on most construction sites, or larger shops, factories or warehouses or DIY shops when they have deliveries, just ask. They are normally quite grateful to get rid of them. When choosing the pallets however make sure they are marked with the letters ‘HT’ indicating they have been heat treated. Others may have been treated with chemicals of some kind which could easily be harmful to wildlife and leach chemicals into your ground.

Pallets make great bug hotels
Sticks and leaves for a bug hotel

You can gather materials from a number of sites and have quite an adventure doing so. A woodland walk is a great place to start. Be careful though not to disturb any natural bug and animal homes when gathering leaves and sticks. Just choose lightly from a number of random areas and only take from the surface, don’t go digging.

Look also for a selection of the following

Strips of wood
Straw
Dry Leaves
Old Logs
Bark
Pine Cones
Old Terracotta pots (preferably already broken)
Tiles
Sticks
Bricks with holes in
Hollow bamboo canes
Cardboard
And any other natural materials you can lay your hands on

Collecting Materials for a Bug Hotel

2/ Selecting a site for your hotel

The area you choose depends on what kind of bugs and small animals you want to attract

* Dry level ground with plenty of sun to attract more solitary Bees

* Damp shady areas for small toads, frogs and newts

* A concealed semi-shaded area near the hedgerow to encourage hedgehogs

Generally though, a quiet place away from the main vegetable plot is a good all rounder for all sorts garden friends to call their home.

3/ Construction & Building up the Layers

All good building projects have strong foundations right? Well our bug hotel is no exception.

Foundations are there to stop your hotel from toppling over, the ground underneath will change as the result of the changing weather conditions throughout the yea. I’m sure you wouldn’t want your happy bug home to to fall over if the ground got too muddy.

Don’t build it too far off the ground or some insects will have a hard time getting in. Unless of course it’s flying insects your to attract. In which case a wall mounted bug hotel would suit perfectly, otherwise just leave a gap of few centimetres or so under the base.

How to begin

* Position the bricks or flat stones to support the corners and centre points of your hotel, add some straw or sticks inbetween to fill in the gaps. This also creates a little air flow and your first habitat for creepy crawlies.

* Cut the pallets in half and stack them on the bricks.

* Gather the materials into groups, all sticks, cardboard, dead wood, leaves etc

Pallets make great bug hotels
How to make a bug hotel using Pallets
Materials for a Bug Hotel Sticks
Bug Hotel Detail with rolled up Cardboard
Bug Hotel with Bricks and sticks
Bug Hotel Detail with Sticks and Bricks

* Layer the materials into the gaps of the pallets. Just like filling shelves.


* Dry leaves and sticks are particularly good places for ladybirds to hang out, and they love to feast on aphids, helping to keep your veg plot pest free.

 

* Stack some broken pots or tiles on the ground to make bigger gaps, this will make cool dark damp conditions for frogs and toads, they will help keep your slug population in check. Higher up gaps will create dry dark spaces for spiders.


* Add coverings to the side or a smaller concealed box for Hedgehogs to hibernate in the winter months

Encourage wildlife into your garden
How to attract wildlife into your garden
encourage wildlife into your garden
Wildlife in the garden Helping Hedgehogs

4/ Adding a Roof

Like all buildings it’s good to keep the inside protected from the rain, so a roof is needed

To give our hotel a more natural wild look we have used natural materials for the roof, by layering fir tree clippings weighted down with logs and branches, a bit like a thatched roof.
Or you could use old tiles to make it really weather proof.
The more adventurous could make a living roof garden, a place where you can even grow plants and flowers to attract more insects.

Our Completed Grand Bug Hotel

A Completed big bug hotel using pallets

Giving Nature A Home

Other ways that you can help wildlife in your garden

There are many other ways to entice more wildlife into your garden without building from foraged materials, and you’d be helping to support wildlife in other ways as well.
The RSPB
shop have a number of Bee hotels, Hedgehog homes and even Butterfly Feeding Kits for sale on their website.

Copper Butterfly in the garden
RSPB Hedghog Home

Keeping Track of Nature

Keep a scrap book featuring all your new garden friends

Once your bug hotel is in place why not start a scrapbook about how you built yours. Include pictures and drawings of all the creatures you hope will move in and perhaps some you’ve already found.
Let your scrapbook grow with the seasons. Keep track of your garden wildlife throughout the year, keeping notes on how it changes from the busy bee months of spring and summer to the quiet colder winter days. What can be found? Did a hedgehog move in? Where do your frogs go in winter? How many birds came to your garden?
There are so many areas in nature to explore and fun things to do from just this one project.

Here are some FREE templates to download and colour-in to get you started, let us know how you get on.

Click on the group to the right, then for each one you want to print, click on 'View Full Size' to open it in a new window where you can then print.

Give Nature a Home

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