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DIY Bug Hotel - no construction required!

This blog started as a simple Instagram image of our DIY Bug Hotel, but the post was so popular we thought we’d put together a How-To blog, (complete with pictures of the work in progress) of our creation - zero power tools required!

The idea to create our Bug Hotel came about during the weekly sorting of recycling for collection: a cardboard wine delivery box with built-in dividers inspired our youngest child to imagine ways we could use it. With a fascination for all things bug-like and a worm “farmer” from way back, the idea to create a Bug Hotel was one of the first to come to mind.

Choose your shell:

Ours was a simple choice, (it found us, really!) but we can recommend any sturdy cardboard box, like banana or mango boxes from your local grocer or supermarket. You could even use an old archive storage box or moving boxes. 

If you want to make something more weatherproof, you can find wooden fruit boxes on Gumtree, or if you’re not averse to buying new, a fruit crate from IKEA.  

Create your rooms:

We had built-in dividers with our hotel, but you can make your own using offcuts of cardboard or wood (you may find offcuts of wood at your local Bunnings). Cut three or four lengths to fit the height and width of your hotel, and then cut slots in each piece at regular intervals to connect.

Furnish your hotel:

As our hotel shell was a  “found” object, we challenged ourselves to create the remainder with only things we found around the house or in our backyard. Items included old house bricks (leftover from a garden bed edging), cardboard rolls, grass clippings, sticks, prunings from the lavender bushes, tree branch offcuts, leaf litter and rolled up hessian. It offered an excellent opportunity to discuss how the bugs could use the different materials, and which elements might attract which kinds of insects.  Would slater bugs like the leaf litter?  Would bees enjoy the lavender?  You’ll be surprised at what you have on hand, and if you have a few plants in need of pruning, all the better.  If you’d like a bit more variety, you could ask your neighbours for some offcuts or clippings.

It was also a fantastic sensory exercise; touching and smelling each piece, exploring their physical properties, and deciding how best to use them in the hotel. Bricks down the bottom for stability, not having identical elements right next door to each other, manipulating the materials to fit into their rooms.

Hotel signage:

Once built, all that remained was to create some signage to encourage the arrival of tenants! Our hotel signage featured pictures of all kinds of bugs, “so they’d know they’re all welcome, and we have rooms that all of them would like!” We then made a triangle pyramid frame with two more pieces of cardboard to allow for the prominent display of the sign atop the hotel.

Construction tips:

We created our Bug Hotel with zero need for power tools or how-to know-how, but if you are handy in that way you can create a more long-lasting construction from timber, and drilling holes in wood rounds and garden offcuts to create bug “hollows". You could also try our version as your first attempt, with plans to build something more ambitious in the future!

Have you built a Bug Hotel? We’d love for you to share it with us!  Share on our Facebook or Instagram, with the hashtags #natureplaywa and #bughotel 

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