insect hotel

Build a Bug Hotel

A bug hotel is part garden art and part winter habitat for beneficial insects. Here is how to make one for this weekend project.

How to Build a Bug Hotel

Before we dig into the project this week please raise your glass and toast to Weekend Project #52!

Cheers!

For one full year now I have created some sort of garden related project that in most cases are easy, stylish, thrifty, handy, all-natural, or just plain fun. Sometimes they are all of those things. If you have been following along you’ve seen the handmade holiday gift ideas, natural skincare products, garden projects galore (pea trellis, green-roof birdhouse, and upside down tomato planter), seed starting tutorials, ways to bring the garden inside (branch coat rack, branch coasters, sun print napkins), and ways to enjoy it outside (citronella CANdles, mason jar solar lights, concrete garden planters & stepping stones).

In addition to weekend projects, I have put up a few more projects each week: canning recipes, crafts, book reviews, and various other ideas to make yard and home one big joyous bundle of garden. Please take some time to scroll through and enjoy these projects and try a few. I love to get your e-mails and photos on projects you have tried. Please keep them coming.

I still have a whole bunch of ideas (more ideas than time!) and so I will continue to put up 2-3 projects a week and have many holiday ideas for this coming fall and winter. Keep visiting and make sure you subscribe, follow on Pinterest and Twitter, and like Garden Therapy on Facebook to keep up with all the garden, food and craft ideas. And here’s to you for reading:

Cheers!

Now back to our regularly scheduled program…

Build a Bug Hotel

winter house of good garden bugs

Often times these decorative displays of plant material intended to provide shelter to overwintering insects are called bug hotels or insect houses. Perhaps they should be called bug hostels because the rooms are available to all but they do need to bring their own sleeping bag. Ok, so bugs don’t have sleeping bags but some do bring their eggs or larva (sorry) for winter protection and gestation, while others have been known to fill up the hole with mud behind them. Setting up different protected areas in your bug hostel will let the bugs find a room that suits them and prepare it as they wish.

bug hotel

Bees

Many garden bees are ground dwellers so they won’t have a need for a hotel room. They will dig a little hole in the soil for winter hibernation and you may see some groggy bumblebees when you are out digging in early spring if you wake them too early. Solitary bees, however, like to nest in hollow stems for the winter. Contrary to their title, they will often pack a number of bees in a stem before closing off the opening with some mud and then having a good snooze until spring.

Ladybugs

Ladybugs like to overwinter as large groups in between dry plant material. Some twigs packed together give the ladybugs plenty of room to squeeze in and wait for warmer days and eating aphids. More about ladybugs as garden helpers in this post on attracting beneficial insects.

Beetles, Spiders, Lacewings and Friends

Many other insects will have all sorts of nesting needs. By providing a variety of plant material into your bug hostel you will encourage all sorts of garden friends to lodge.  How can you be sure that you are only providing shelter for beneficial insects? Well, you can’t. It’s a tough world out there and at times bad bugs (earwigs – yuck!!) will move in. Some may even eat their neighbours. You can’t control what happens in the bug hostel, just trust that if you provide enough space for the good guys, you can create balance in the garden.

insect house

Materials:

  • Cut bamboo pieces, stems, twigs, seed heads, pinecones, wood shavings, lichen
  • Using 3/4″ thick cedar or other rot resistant wood. Cut the following pieces:
    • top: 5 1/2″(h) x 5 1/2″(w)
    • bottom: 5 1/2″(h) x 5 1/2″(w)
    • back panel: 12″(h) x 5 1/2″(w)
    • left panel: 12″(h) x 4 3/4″(w)
    • right panel: 12″(h) x 4 3/4″(w)
  • Weather resistant screws between 1 1/4″ 1 1/2″ long. #6 or #8 size
  • Drill
  • Hanging hardware

Bug Hotel materials

Directions:

1. Cut cedar boards to the dimensions listed using a table saw or have them cut at your local hardware store if you don’t have one.

2. Screw the box together by drilling pilot holes first through.

Bug Hotel frame

3. Arrange plant materials within the structure, packed tightly so it will stay put, but with lots of available crevices for the bugs.

bug house

insect habitat

4. Affix hanging hardware and hang in an area of the garden that is close to where you want the bugs next season.

hanging hardware

Thanks for visiting Weekend Project #52.

insect hotel



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About the Author : StephanieAn artistic gardener aiming to feed the body & soul through an urban potager garden & a community veggie plot in Vancouver.View all posts by Stephanie

  1. Liz @ Infuse With Liz
    Liz @ Infuse With LizSeptember 24,12

    Wow, that’s really neat- what a cute idea- Bug Hotel! I just saw some of those tubes for bees yesterday. I guess I never thought of doing something like this before! I live by a big stand of woods so I imagine these critters have a lot of places to dig into naturally. It would be fun to see the bees though! This could be a cute project for kids in school too!

  2. Rachel
    RachelSeptember 26,12

    What a great idea! I love that it is both beautiful and functional. I make little ‘fairy shrines’ in my yard for fun and I bet they would love camping out with their bug friends in a fancy ‘hotel’ like this! So fun :)

  3. Stevie
    StevieOctober 1,12

    Rachel, that’s adorable!

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  5. Anna
    AnnaFebruary 6,13

    Love this. We have a Bee Motel for native Australian bees and we might just add this as another way to help the beneficial bugs – so gorgeous how you have stacked it! Some bees also like to nest in paper drinking straws which can be bundled tightly together too.

  6. Danijela
    DanijelaFebruary 24,13

    Poor earwigs. Just because they’re not as cute as ladybugs, we don’t want them around… But they do lots of good & helpful things in our gardens, people… I’ll find some extra “b&b space” for the ones in my garden this winter.

  7. Rebecca
    RebeccaMarch 26,13

    Fantastic. I have an old wooden CD rack and wanted a good use for it. I wanted to make a bug hotel but was confused as to what to put in it. This page has just shown me, Thank you :)

  8. Shari
    ShariApril 17,13

    Hi, where does one find bamboo?

  9. Stevie
    StevieApril 17,13

    Hi Shari, if you don’t know someone with a bamboo plant who will share, try a nursery or hardware store. Both should carry them in the garden stake sections.

  10. Sherwood Botsford
    Sherwood BotsfordApril 26,13

    Love the idea.
    Alternatives to bamboo:
    Delphinium stalks, sunflower stalks, cow parsley stalks. Maybe rhubarb seed head stalks.

    I was thinking of taking a pallet, screwing a bunch of nursery pots to the face of it, and stuffing each pot with something, then attaching the pallet to a fence post.

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  12. Mark
    MarkAugust 3,13

    Am currently making one of these… Was going to buy one and then decided tht it would be more rewarding to make my own… Going to lock woods tomorrow to get twigs nod pine cones…
    :-)

  13. Mark
    MarkAugust 3,13

    I mean local woods!

  14. James Mann
    James MannAugust 11,13

    I have already started to build a ladybug and beneficial insect hotel. Hope to have it done before the end of today so I can get it out next to the garden. I think I will attach mine to the side of our garden shed as it’s just a few feet from the garden.

  15. Sarah @ 2paws Designs
    Sarah @ 2paws DesignsAugust 26,13

    What a neat idea! Found via Pinterest and will be saving for a future weekend project. I’m betting my 4yo will love helping with and keeping an eye on this. Thanks for the tutorial! :)

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  18. EcoBrotes
    EcoBrotesApril 8,14

    Very nice project. Congrats! A wonderful way to encourage natural enemies in the garden.

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