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Make your own bug hotel

Bees and insects are such an important part of our ecosystem — without them our lives would be very different! I’ve been trying to help my kids understand that we need insects to pollinate fruit, flowers and vegetables — but bugs are having a tough time and losing their natural habitat.

So we decided to make a safe haven for bugs and bees in our garden, and made a multi-storey bug hotel. It was really simple to put together, and a great way to recycle garden or building waste, as well as giving lots of cool creepy-crawlies somewhere to live. Ours has hideaways of all shapes and sizes, and it could become home to anything from ladybirds and woodlice to solitary bees or even hedgehogs and frogs!

The boys and I had so much fun making the different ‘bedrooms’ of the bug hotel, and they love checking to see who’s moved in. Below is a step-by-step guide so you can have a go at making your own. And don’t forget to share your creations with us on social: @toddlebornwild

Materials you could use

Old wooden pallets

Strips or planks of wood

Bricks (particularly ones with holes in)

Garden waste like dry leaves, straw, moss, old logs, bark and hollow stems

Roofing tiles

Terracotta pots

Stones

Wood chip or bark

Sand or soil

Corrugated card

Hollow bamboo canes

Roofing felt

(This list isn’t exhaustive, but hopefully gives you an idea of the kind of things you can use — be creative and use what you have!)

How to make it

Step 1: Before you start building, decided where it’s going to live. (Once it’s built it will be difficult to move without disturbing the residents.) We opted for a corner of the garden near the compost heap, but not too close to the veg patch. We don’t want hungry bugs munching all our carrots and cabbages.

Step 2: Create a sturdy base using bricks. Start with the corners and create an H-shape leaving some space in between the bricks. Layer three or four wooden pallets on top. It’s important not to build too high, so it’s stable enough to stay standing (especially with curious little ones around).

Step 3: Start filling in the gaps with everything you’ve gathered. By making different nooks and crannies you can attract different kinds of bugs. My boys loved making the different ‘bedrooms’. Here are a few ideas:

Hollow bamboo and dead stems for solitary bees

Dry leaves and straw for ladybirds and beetles

Layers of corrugated cardboard for lacewings

Stones and old pots make larger ‘hotels’ for frogs and toads (I know they’re not bugs!)

Wood and bark for beetles, spiders and woodlice

Step 4: When you’ve filled in all the gaps and you think the bug hotel is high enough, put a roof on to keep it as dry as possible. You can cover the roof with planks and roofing felt. We had some old roofing tiles lying around, so we used them. You could also make a living roof by adding soil to the top and sprinkling on wildflower seeds.

Step 5: Plant some nectar-rich flowers close to the bug hotel to help attract butterflies, bees and other pollinating insects. Now your hotel has its own restaurant!

Step 6: Wait for the residents to move in. Maybe you could make a ‘bug spotting’ game or checklist for your kids?