Build a Bug Hotel!

Have you ever wanted to create a little refuge for your small, backyard-friendly critters? Now you can with the help of these simple steps and with many natural items found around your home, backyard, garden, or park! Before you head out on your search for these materials, make sure to take a backpack or container with you in the event you find too many cool items for all of your creature crafts!

Making a home for insects and other tiny animals is not only a fun way to showcase your creative side, it can also provide them with shelter and protection from wind, rain, snow, and other elements. These mini creatures are essential for the environment; they help maintain a steady balance in nature because they are an important food source for so many and they pollinate countless flowers. More than 100,000 different animals play a role in pollinating, with insects and other invertebrates being the most common – even the creepy crawly kind, like spiders and wasps!

You can purchase a bug or bee hotel kit from a local store or build your own!

There are many types, shapes, sizes, and colors to choose from. Here are a few examples:

  • Old bird house
  • Wooden crate
  • Tin can (ie, cookie tin)
  • Coffee mug
  • Flower pot
  • Wooden CD holder
  • Plastic jug
  • Plastic bottle
  • Empty juice or milk carton
  • Other wood structures, like an old drawer (untreated wood is best)

In this Creature Hero Project, we’ll be building a wood/tin bug hotel. Before you begin, make sure to ask an adult to help you collect the materials for the bug hotel and to help you build it!

Bug Hotel
Image source:

Materials to build bug hotel

  • Bag, container, backpack for collecting materials
  • Pieces of wood 
  • Cutting tools: drill, scissors
  • Pencil, marker, crayons
  • Yarn, burlap, string, or rope
  • Tape or staples
  • Chicken wire or old window screen 
  • Materials to go inside your hotel creation. Here are a few examples:
  • Twigs, sticks, stems
  • Pinecones, acorn tops
  • Non-plastic tubing: bamboo, reeds, wood blocks with smooth drill holes for tunneling and nesting
  • Dried moss, lichen
  • Acorn tops
  • Dried bark, dead wood pieces
  • Washed popsicle sticks
  • A roof or other structure to shelter your hotel
  • Rocks, pebbles, stones
  • Dried leaves, stems
  • Some paper or cardboard: Don’t forget to create a sign to let the critters know you are open for business!
  • An adult participant to help out with cutting and collecting materials for your hotel

Building your Bug Hotel

  1. With a backpack, bag, or container, head out to places like your home, garden, backyard, or neighbourhood park to collect some natural materials. These items will eventually go inside your hotel

  2. Find pieces of wood and cans from your recycling bin, garden shed, home, or yard. These items will provide the main base and structure of your hotel

  3. With the help of an adult, use a drill to make 3-4 holes along the short edge of each piece of wood, and at each end

  4. Using rope, yarn, string, or burlap (something sturdy) push the rope through the holes and tie a knot to make sure they hold together. For the top portion of the hotel, make sure this piece of rope is long enough to make a spacious loop. The excess rope will eventually be used to anchor your hotel around your home

  5. Once your cans have been cleaned and dried, fill each one with some of your haul from your trip – sticks, bamboo tubes, acorns, wood chips etc…

  6. Place the cans inside your hotel

  7. If your hotel is for smaller guests only, you can include mesh around the entrance. With the help of an adult, cut out a piece of wire mesh, and then use tape or staples around the edges of the wire to fasten them to your hotel

    • This will help minimize damage from larger, curious animals

    • Ensure holes are large enough for bugs to enter

  8. Now it’s time to find a place to debut your new creature hotel!

    • Placing it near some wild flowers and in an area that receives sun and light shade is a good place to start 

    • Make sure it is secure so that movements are limited

  9. With your scissors, cut out a piece of cardboard or paper, and find something to write with. Make a sign for your guests!

  10. Check back every so often to see who has moved in! 

  11. Regular housekeeping is key to keeping your visitors happy and healthy! 

    • At the end of the season (or more frequently if using materials that decay/collect mold easily), check tunnels, acorns, and other materials for mites, mold, and types of decay

    • Remove unwanted or dirty materials

    • If your hotel has seen better days, replace it with some upgrades – change everything with fresh materials. Experts recommend changing wooden nesting blocks every two years or so, while plastic and cardboard ones be changed more frequently

  12. During colder months, you can also store your hotel somewhere cool and dry, like a garden shed, to protect overwintering creatures from weather elements

For more Creature Hero Projects,