How to make a simple bug hotel

This week Violet and I made a very simple bug hotel in our garden, we had so much fun collecting the materials and putting it together I thought I’d share the idea with you as I’m sure you are running out of ideas to keep your toddlers busy during lockdown, we certainly are! Bug hotels are brilliant as they encourage insects, bugs and bees into your garden, giving them a safe shelter where they can grow and thrive. You might not think you want extra bugs in the garden but they are essential for our ecosystem – they aerate the soil, pollinate blossoms, control insect and plant pests as well as recycling nutrients back into the soil. So, as you can see they are pretty important to take care of… I just made sure I put our bug hotel right at the back of the garden, as far from the house as possible! 

The first thing you need for your bug hotel is a container, it can be any shape or size but with a ‘roof’ or top to keep it sheltered as bugs like spaces that are often a bit damp but still sheltered from the elements. It’s best to make it from reclaimed natural materials like wood, we used an old birdhouse that had lost its roof but you could make it out of anything! You can even buy pre-made ones if you’d prefer! 

The next part was the most fun for Violet – finding all the parts to put our hotel together. She loved scouring the garden and treating it like a little scavenger hunt. We used the tuff tray as a table and laid out all our materials. I also helped by chopping some bamboo canes into shorter pieces, bees love the little tubes and creating a little cluster can act as a mini beehive and encourage bees to nest.  Materials to collect are:  

  • Bark
  • Pinecones
  • Hollow stems of plants or bamboo canes
  • Old pieces of terracota pot
  • Straw
  • Moss
  • Woodchips
  • Old logs
  • Sand
  • Roofing tiles
  • Bricks
  • Wooden Pallets
  • Dried leaves

Assembling the bug hotel is easy, you want to try and make as many different shapes and textures as possible, so there are lots of little areas to attract different species of mini-beast. Get an adult to tie the hollow stems or bamboo canes with string or wool to keep them together.

We then placed our hotel right at the back of the garden in a shady spot ready for our first guests. Violet checks back daily but it’s hard to see if anyone has moved in yet!

I really loved putting together our bug hotel. Violet really enjoyed foraging for the materials (which were all just in our garden, we didn’t have to go far) and then she got creative putting them all together, even laying a flower on the top to welcome our new friends.

As well as finding and naming lots of bugs and natural resources like wood, bark, soil, pinecones etc, we learned a lot about the textures too – I was asking Violet ‘how does it feel?’ and she’d reply with words like ‘crispy’ or ‘damp’, which is all good learning too.

Let me know if you decide to make a bug hotel – I’d love to see your photos!

For 21 more toddler learning and play ideas see this post!

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  • oh Tyler would LOVE this! I’ll have to see what I can get together and maybe take a little walk tomorrow with him to find some bits and bobs to go inside it! Eek! x