The benefits of bug hotels and how to build one

Bug hotel at Trust Links Thundersley

Sustainability is at the core of everything we do at Trust Links. If you’ve ever visited our therapeutic community gardens, you may have noticed some of the features we have in place to support the world around us. This includes our green roofs that can be found on our bike shelters and outdoors classroom, our bee hives which provide the community with fantastic local honey, and our number of bug hotels.

With the hope of getting others engaging with nature and the environment, we’re sharing a quick guide to bug hotels – a creative and completely natural way of supporting the little creatures that we need for pollination and a number of other reasons. It is simple and effective, and can also be an attractive addition to your garden.

Why build a bug hotel?

Bug hotels benefit lots of different types of minibeast and insects such as ladybirds, bees, spiders and woodlice. Minibeasts can then use your bug hotel as a safe space to shelter, lay their eggs, raise their young, and seek refuge from predators.

Although you can build your bug hotel at any time of year, many animals start looking for safe spaces in autumn in preparation to hibernate. At this time of year, it will also be easier to collect all kinds of natural items that will help you with your eco-friendly creation.

How to make your own safe place for insects

The best bug hotels are eco-friendly, and built using upcycled garden materials, natural items such as leaves and sticks, and re-purposed items from home that are no longer wanted. Here are some of our ideas on things you can use:

  • Wooden pallets
  • Pine cones
  • Old terracotta gardening pots
  • Some kind of solid material to cover the top or of the bug hotel, like turf
  • Old pipes or roof tiles
  • Logs and twigs
  • Rotting wood
  • Dry leaves
  • Bark
  • Straw and hay
  • Bamboo canes
  1. Choose your spot! Many bugs will look for a cooler, moist place to shelter. Try finding somewhere in the shade that doesn’t receive too much sunlight, and look for flat and stable ground. When doing this, remember that your bug hotel will be there through winter! (Tip: if you’re building a solitary bee house, try to find a slightly warmer place!)
  2. Layer up! Use palettes or logs to create layers. This way you can use the different materials in different sections. Insects may use the section that best suits them for egg laying and hibernation!
  3. Fill in gaps with all your materials! Fill up your hotel so that the wildlife can fit into the small spaces. There are no rules on how you do this, but why not take a look at our photos or videos for inspiration!

What insects will you shelter, and what are their benefits?

WildlifeWhere they’ll probably goWhen they’ll visitWhy they’ll use itGarden Benefits
Solitary BeesBamboo TubesSpring / SummerLaying eggsPollinating flowers
LadybirdsWood shavingsWinterHibernateEat aphids (garden pests)
LacewingsColumns and tubesWinterHide & HibernateEat aphids & greenflies (garden pests)
Other InvertebratesAcorns and other crevicesAll year roundShelter and HibernateWildlife conservation

Do you want to learn more about bug hotels? Watch the videos below! 

Remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel for all of our wellbeing, skills, gardening videos and updates in one place.

Matt builds a Bug Hotel

(This video was taken from Trust Links Live, which provides live and pre-recorded wellbeing, gardening and skills videos on Facebook)

How to build a Solitary Bee House

(This video was taken from our Blooming Well project – providing families in lockdown with creative activities to look after their wellbeing, and engage with nature)