Making a bug hotel, view of completed structure showing detail of components, Potton lower school, Bedfordshire

Build a minibeast hotel

Create a hotel full of different natural materials, to provide hidey-holes for creatures galore!

The size and construction of your bug hotel is only limited by the materials you have available and your imagination!

Minibeasts are very relaxed tenants and will find the places that appeal to them as long as there are lots of nice nooks and crannies to explore, and some nice rotting bark to munch on.  

If you build a solid foundation you can always add to your hotel in stages later on or whenever you have the right materials to hand.

Have fun and get building!

Are you doing this activity as part of your Wild Challenge? Take a look at your progress and go for gold!

 

Did you know That your average UK woodlouse might be around 1 cm in length - but in the tropics you might find one which is three times as big, if not bigger!

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What will you need

  • Old wooden pallets
  • Bricks

After you've used you bricks and pallets to make a solid structure, what you put inside is up to you

There are loads of great natural materials you can use - most of them are things that you can find lying around!

Here are a few suggestions.

  • Strips of wood
  • Straw
  • Moss
  • Dry leaves
  • Woodchips
  • Old terracotta pots
  • Old roofing tiles
  • Bricks (the ones with holes through them are the best!)
  • Old logs
  • Bark
  • Pine cones 
  • Sand
  • Soil
  • Hollow bamboo canes
  • Dead hollow stems cut from shrubs and plants
  • A sheet of roofing felt
Garden snail

Step-by-step

  1. Choose a suitable spot. It needs to be level and and on flat solid ground.

    You’ll get different residents depending on where you put your hotel, as some like cool, damp conditions and others (such as solitary bees) prefer nice dry sunny spaces. 
  2. The basic structure. Your hotel can come in any shape or size you want, but one thing's for sure, you'll want it to stay up!

    It's best to build a strong, stable framework that's no more than a metre high. Old wooden pallets are perfect, as they’re sturdy and come with ready-made gaps!

    First, lay out your bricks as a base. Space them apart and try creating an H-shape on the ground - like a brick helicopter landing pad!

    Now you can start to stack wooden pallets on top of your bricks. Here's a top tip - leaving larger ends can help attract our spiky friend the hedgehog to visit.

    You can also make a smaller structure, depending on the wood and space you have. Whatever size you decide to make is fine - you're still giving a home to nature whether it's big or small. 

  3. Fill in the gaps. The idea is to provide all sorts of different nooks and crannies, crevices, tunnels and cosy beds.

    You can use all sorts of different materials to fill in your framework. Just place, stack, scatter and poke them in to make a clever collection of different habitats.
    • dead wood and loose bark for creepy crawlies like beetles, centipedes, spiders and woodlice
    • holes and small tubes (not plastic) for solitary bees made out of bamboo, reeds and drilled logs
    • larger holes with stones and tiles, which provide the cool, damp conditions frogs and toads like – if you put it in the centre you’ll give them a frost-free place to spend the winter (they’ll help eat slimy slugs too!)
    • dry leaves, sticks or straw for ladybirds (they eat aphids) and other beetles and bugs
    • corrugated cardboard for lacewings (their larvae eat aphids, too)
    • dry leaves which mimic a natural forest floor
    • you can even put a hedgehog box into the base of the hotel.

  4. Add a 'roof'. You don't want a hotel that's full of soggy residents and wet rooms! It's time to pop a roof on top of what you've done so far.

    If you like, you could even give it a 'green' or 'brown' roof by putting a bit of rubble or gritty soil on top. Only plants that love dry conditions cope up there, but if you're lucky some wild flower seeds could arrive on the breeze and take root. 
  5. Finishing touches

    Every hotel needs a kitchen. Don't forget, your guests will want to eat when they stay. Surround your hotel with loads of colourful nectar-rich flowers – essential food for butterflies, bees and other insects that decide to call for room service!

    Now it's time for your grand opening! If you want, choose a name for your hotel and put a sign up outside.  You can even have a ceremony and cut a ribbon like they do for the real thing.

    Remember to take a photo with the finished build! You have to show us how you got on in order to tick off your minibeast palace as part of your Wild challenge.

  6. Don't forget to tell us when you have completed the activity! When you mark the activity as complete, you will be asked to upload a photo, drawing or painting to help earn your award.
Hawthorn shieldbug

Completing the activity

Use the 'Mark as complete' button at the top of this page to tell us you've completed your activity. You'll need to show us what you did by uploading a photo of your minibeast hotel, either complete or your family making it or some images of minibeasts using it. You can send us some artwork instead if you wish.

Check out the how to video

How to make a minibeast hotel

A video showing you how to build your very own minibeast hotel, out of bricks and garden materials.

Play video
Build a bug hotel video screenshot

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