Bug hotel ideas: 14 ways to give insects the 5 Star treatment

Ways to give insects the 5 Star treatment

If you want an all inclusive garden then the latest bug hotel ideas will help ensure that it's packed with flourishing blooms and a thriving vegetable patch by enticing pollinators. Some of us may not be huge fans of buzzing bees and creepy crawlies but they play a critical role as part of our food and plant production and are hugely beneficial to the ecosystem. 

'As more bees flock to your garden, they will fertilize your plants and ensure seeds are produced,' say the experts at The Greenhouse People. 'To invite more bees into your garden, you could install bee hotels. Although we typically think of bees as part of a hive, some bees are solitary and will lay their eggs alone in tunnel-like nests.'

Amateur Gardening expert, John Negas, is all for using bug hotels to boost our garden's production, plus they can play an important role when it comes to rewilding your garden too. 'A wide range of creatures, including mason bees, lacewings and ladybirds, will, in winter, hibernate within a bug hotel, and the more insects we have the better plants perform.' 

Bug hotel ideas should be fun to make, and are ideal projects to do with kids. The fun part is getting creative with your materials and designs. You could also opt for ready made varieties and decorate them or leave them neutral. Soon you'll have all sorts checking in and they'll be returning the favor by improving your garden's health.

These bug hotel ideas will encourage insects and pollinators to your plot and bring a touch of charm to your wildlife garden scheme too. 

By Teresa Conway

(Ian Thwaites / Alamy Stock Photo)
1. Build a bug hotel against a shed wall

The wall of a garden shed is a blank canvas which could become the ideal project for exercising your creativity. Using the wall to create an insect hotel might not be something you've considered before.

It could be as simple as incorporating individual bug hotels into your latest shed, or you could go further and create a framework of shelves which can be built up to form different sections. Some of which could be stuffed with garden matter and other sections could be used for practical garden storage.

(marina_lohrbach / Alamy Stock Photo)
2. Build into gaps in a wall

Whenever you're embarking on a new project for the garden, think about how you can utilize this opportunity to really maximize the space to get the most out of it. And as gardeners we will often want to consider our environmental contribution too and create an eco friendly garden. 

Bug hotel ideas like this one will tick every box. If you're building a new boundary, incorporating insect havens is an ingenious garden walls. Making the most of your vertical spaces is a smart choice, particularly for compact plots. And the gaps in a wall are sufficiently sheltered enough to make an appealing spot for insects.

(Roger Bamber / Alamy Stock Photo)
3. Keep it simple with a tin can design

When we think of insect hotel ideas, you might picture something which resembles a bird house design. But simple designs like this can be just as effective at sheltering wildlife. And it makes good use of an everyday item from your household waste.

Instead of throwing out your tin can, remove the label and carefully clean it out and remove the base as well as the top. Thread a piece of garden twine through the can and leave a decent length which you will use to hang your project up with.

Secure the loop by tying the ends together. Stuff the tin can with lengths of bamboo, twigs or straw and hang in position.

(Alamy Stock Photo)
4. Choose a design which uses natural materials

If you're buying a ready made insect house, try to opt for one which uses natural materials. Plastic is not an eco friendly material so try to avoid it if you're hoping to do some good to the environment by installing bug hotel ideas. 

This natural wood insect hotel with bark roof from Gardenesque can be easily attached to a tree or a fence with a single nail.

5. Position near pollinator plants

If you want to ensure you get plenty of guests checking into your insect hotel then there's no better advertisment than bee friendly plants growing in the vicinity. 'Native plants and wildflowers rich in pollen and nectar are the best for enticing bees, providing a floral buffet for them to feast on,' say experts at The Greenhouse People.

Growing the best plants for pollinators will attract bees and other insects to your garden and providing passers-by with a comfortable shelter will make them more likely to stop for an extended stay. 

Remember that the presence of pollinators will improve your garden no end! Our guide on how to grow a butterfly garden is packed with expert tips to help you encourage even more to your plot. 

(Sjoerd van der Hucht / Alamy Stock Photo)
6. Use unwanted bricks and planks

Hollie Newton, Chief Creative office at Sproutl, predicts we will see a greater appreciation for the benefits of insects in our gardens, with an increased demand for pollinator-friendly plants as well as a move towards using safer pest control products to reduce the impact on beneficial garden insects and wildlife.

And insect hotel ideas are yet another useful tool for helping this valuable wildlife. It doesn't take a great deal of skill to put together some pretty effective bug hotel ideas. Take this example which is made by stacking planks of wood on top of spare bricks. 

Make the bottom wide and gradually get narrower as you go up. If you're not fixing the bricks and planks in properly be sure not to build your structure up more than two or three layers maximum. Stuff the cracks with twigs and leaves and keep it out of the way so you won't trip over it. 

(Judith Everitt / Future)
7. Combine with a bird house

If you're setting aside some space for insects, why not welcome in birds while you're at it? Will Foulkes, product expert for Sproutl, comments: 'Water features made a splash at the Chelsea Flower Show, and the bird bath is now making a return.' He went on to say: 'new styles and designs have reimagined the humble bird bath. A top tip is to add a few copper pennies and this will help keep the water clean, as copper slows algae growth.”

This bug hotel design has a birdhouse mounted at the top of a column which has layers of broken tiles, twigs and aggregate to provide shelter for insects. To make it even more hospitable you could have a small water bowl on top which can be both a practical bird bath and a drinking source for feathered friends. Introducing water in this way is a simple way of giving your sensory garden a boost too. 

(Miriam Heppell / Alamy Stock Photo)
8. Color coordinate with your planting

If you're someone who likes continuity in your garden designs then having a bug hotel which doesn't stick out like a sore thumb will be a key consideration. Selecting a color which fits with your planting and paint scheme will ensure that your style is kept consistent.

Take this lush green and clean white scheme. The bird houses and bug hotels are perfectly blended to the fence with a lick of white paint. 

Though color palettes may be an important part of your aesthetic it's vital that you also provide flowers which are pollen rich in your planting schemes. 

(Miriam Heppell / Alamy Stock Photo)
9. Drill holes in pieces of wood

One of the most basic principles behind bug hotel ideas is to create small spaces for insects to crawl into. This could be gaps between twigs and pine cones or cracks in bark. Another simple idea is to create small holes in larger pieces of wood and brick.

These can be done using an electric drill. The holes can be a variety of depths as different depths will work for different species. They will be safe spaces in which insects can lay their eggs.

(Alamy Stock Photo)
10. Incorporate a honeycomb pattern

These nooks have been constructed into the six sided hexagon shapes which make up a beehive. Not only do they fit together perfectly, they give a contemporary look which adds interest to this modern garden. 

Perhaps the bees won't notice this homage to their queen, but your friends and neighbors will. 

(Ian Thwaites / Alamy Stock Photo)
11. Create a glow with solar lights

Outdoor lighting are used in the garden as a practical tool but also it helps to highlight key features when the sun goes down. The solar bulbs on these bug houses will give off a gentle glow in the evenings, allowing you to watch the activities of any insects active at night. 

The lights of this insect house are in adorable bee shapes and they are slotted onto the hive to give off a soft illumination which will add to the ambiance of your evening.

(Ella James)
12. Use a make-your-own kit

DIY bug hotel kits contain everything you need to put one together. Position it at ground level, to bring color and interest to your flowerbeds  as well as attracting insects who operate at lower levels. Or fix it up high for flyers-by. 

The attachable ladybirds are super cheerful already, but you could add a lick of outdoor paint to the exterior to brighten it up even more.

(Annabel James)
13. Add them to a living wall display

'By creating an outdoor vertical garden on your balcony or in your garden, you also contribute towards biodiversity,' says the team at Bloom & Wild. 'Green living walls and vertical gardens provide roosting and nesting spaces for birds, hibernation opportunities for insects and also nectar and fruit for bees, birds and other insects.'

With this in mind, consider incorporating bug hotels into your vertical garden to make these spaces even more appealing to insects.

(Photo: Rona Wheeldon design: JamJar Flowers)
14. Make it a fun project for kids

Not only is this bug hotel idea a great garden activity for kids, but it will help teach your little ones about the importance of wildlife. 'Getting your children involved with planting activities can be a great way to bond and teach them about nature,' says Richard Cheshire, expert at Patch Plants. 'It’s an ongoing task, so it can take up a small amount of time during the long summer holidays.'

Start by putting down newspaper and letting them decorate a flower pot with paints. Try finger painting for really young children. Allow the paint to dry and fill the pot with sand. Then simply poke in short pieces of bamboo and straw. The holes will provide nesting places for bugs to burrow into and lay their eggs. 

'Gardening gives your children the space to explore and learn about nature. Experts even say it might increase their interest in eating fruit and vegetables!' adds Richard. 

(Alamy Stock Photo)

Check in with these bug hotel ideas which will attract pollinators and ensure a thriving garden that's full of bright blooms and delicious veg