How to make a Bug Hotel – and why you need one

In planning our new garden layout I was keen to encourage beneficial wildlife and considered building some sort of  Bug Hotel. A little while later my husband was working on a property where the owner was having a clear out. He spotted a terracotta object which he thought might be of interest to me and brought it home. Although it looks like a piece of Lego it turned out to be a French wine rack component (They stack them in Cellars).

I quickly realised it would make a wonderful Insect Palace. What!?! Yes, you read that right, I turned a French wine rack into a Bug House! So this Post is to tell you all about How to make a Bug Hotel for your garden

Salvaged terracotta wine rack used as a Bug Hotel

Why you need a Bug Hotel in your Garden

Here at Dovewood, I try to be organic in my approach to gardening. Apart from any other reasons, in this day and age when there is less and less available to non-commercial gardeners in the way of chemical answers to Pests and Diseases, it makes sense. From a health and planet welfare point of view it is a must. There has been a rising interest in using natural responses to the battles that rage in the garden, and how to prevent damage to our precious blooms and crops.I read somewhere that it takes approximately five years for the ecological balance to return to newly landscaped sites. So anything we can do to encourage the friendly, beneficial insects is good. Even in a small garden there needs to be an ecological balance.

Basically we need the beneficial bugs to counter attacks from unwelcome guests. And the best way to promote this, is by providing the habitat needed by our little friends. We have had first-hand experience of this, having stripped the north garden right back to a blank canvas and then landscaped the whole site, we had effectively evicted friend and foe from the Insect world of our garden. Last year we suffered some devastating plant destruction as the less welcome insects were the first to move back in, and whole plants were stripped of vegetation.

Bees are welcome in our garden

We also need to encourage beneficial pollinators such as Bees. Open flowers that Bees love is a start. Companion planting to distract the enemy is good. But overwintering places for our little friends means that they come, they stay and they multiply. We need Ladybirds, Hoverflies and Lacewings (amongst others) in our gardens.

How to make a Bug Hotel

If you take a look at my Pinterest Board Garden Wildlife Habitats you will see plenty of examples of Bug Hotels, and they are made from all sorts of things! Many utilise bits of masonry and wood that were probably just lying around – another plus for the planet as these things are repurposed instead of being sent to Landfill. Size doesn’t matter, it merely needs to be practical for the space you have. Breeze blocks, drainage pipes, bricks and tiles can be stacked in a out of the way corner with the gaps filled with suitable materials. The frame should be filled with bug friendly sticks, grass, straw, hollow stems, pine cones, even blocks of wood with holes drilled into it. The choice is yours!

How to make a Bug Hotel

Children can be encouraged to help with this project, for example: they can use an old mug that can be filled with sticks and hung on a branch (just make sure the mug is angled so that it doesn’t fill with rainwater)

Where to Build Your Bug Hotel

Depending what size your Insect habitat is, there are many possibilities for locating it. In Trees, if it is a small box or Mug, hanging on a wall if it is within a frame. Try Stacking it near the compost bins if it is large or going to be somewhat untidy. A tucked away corner can mean that the wildlife is not disturb but if the Bug Hotel is situated where the beneficial insects are most needed, then placing it nearer to that location makes sense. Avoid using a framework or site that might become waterlogged as you don’t want the “wee beasties” to drown. But any cool damp shade it makes will be appreciated by other creatures too, so expect to find toads or grass-snakes sheltering near it.  The gap at the behind ours is probably inhabited by the Toads we have in the garden when they are not on Slug patrol.

And if your Bug Hotel is a thing of beauty why hide it away? Ours has became the focal point of our Kitchen Garden and a talking point with our human visitors! We had wine bottle unit built into a brick base which was topped with a slab of recycled Indian sandstone. We made a hypertufa trough to the right dimensions to sit neatly on top

The Bug Hotel built into a brick base with the Hypertufa trough on top
Our Bug Hotel with the new hypertufa plant trough on top

Another happy little project for you to do, it doesn’t need to be as complicated or as permanent as ours and your garden will be all. Why not add “Make a Bug Hotel” to your Garden Task Sheet? You do have your FREE PRINTABLE don’t you? No? Then why not sign up for yours below!

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