Building a Minibeast Hotel

Your garden will play host to a variety of minibeasts and creepy crawlies - why not make it a 5* experience and build them a luxury hotel to stay in? By Vicky Aitkenhead, Nature Conservation Community Warden

Building a bug hotel can increase biodiversity in your garden, and attract beneficial insects. The beauty of it is that you can build a bug hotel as little or as large as you like to suit your space – the critters will appreciate it all the same! It’s a great activity for the kids too, it’s easy, cheap and fun!

Building a Minibeast Hotel

The best position for your hotel will be part sunny and part shady. Make sure you have picked a flat surface and start to build up your pallets. You can have as many layers as you wish – we used 5 small pallets to create this hotel in Ashford. Make sure your pallets are sturdy, you may want to secure them together. The bottom pallet would ideally be bigger and filled with leaves as this can act as a hedgehog house!

Then it is simply a case of filling in the gaps! Most of the materials we used for our hotel were recycled from our local garden centre who kindly donated the materials to us. Each type of invertebrate has different and preferred shelters, so you can tailor your hotel for which invertebrates you wish to encourage, or cater for all!

Here are some of the materials you can use, and what minibeasts they are best for:

  • Dead wood and loose bark – this is good for beetles, woodlice, centipedes and spiders.
  • Bamboo canes – great for solitary bees and creates crevices for insects to hide in. Alternatively, you can drill holes into a log. We even used an old hosepipe cut into sections.
  • Broken pots or tiles – creates hidey holes for toads, and a place for bees.
  • Straw and dry leaves – great habitat for hibernating animals, and ladybirds like to live in dry twigs and leaves. Ladybirds are great at controlling aphids!
  • Rolled up corrugated cardboard – place in a plastic bottle to protect it from the rain, lacewings favour this habitat.

You can create a green roof on your hotel too. Lining the top will protect the inside of the hotel by keeping it dry from rain, then you can plant nectar rich flowers to encourage the bees and butterflies. Green roofs will need to be watered in summer or dry periods.

If you wanted to try something smaller than a pallet garden, there are other options! Tying a handful of bamboo canes together, or cutting the top off a plastic bottle and filling with canes will provide a home for solitary bees. Just hang it up against a sunny wall and watch the bees fill the end of the bamboo canes with mud (or even leaves for leaf cutter bees!)

Once you are finished you can see which minibeasts move in and enjoy!