Insect hotels can be bought ready made. There are the greatest models. But many are quite expensive and you can safely save the money. Such a shelter for insects is usually very easy to build. Most materials can be found in nature. An insect hotel offers space for wild bees, lacewings, butterflies, ladybugs and other insects.

Alternative: kit

If you don’t want to buy a finished hotel, you can try a kit. All parts are already included. They just have to be put together in the right order. The parts are usually glued together.

  • You can easily build a hotel out of clay pots. For example, straw is filled in, one by one, stalk by stalk. Then simply attach the pot to a protected wall.
  • You can do the same with small zinc buckets. For a change, you fill in bark or branches.
  • In this way, a wide variety of smaller vessels can be filled with different materials, one vessel with only one filling.

I have a few suggestions for building an insect hotel and I’ll start with the simplest. Even children can make this. It’s very simple and small, just a beginner’s model.

Entry-level model of an insect house

You need:

  • 1 plywood base, about 30 cm long and 15 cm wide.
  • 2 plates of the same size, from which a triangle can be formed together with the base plate, 40 cm long, 12 cm wide
  • 1 triangular plate, which serves as a back wall, it is best to cut it to size at the end. The hole for the suspension is in this plate.
  • Plenty of hollow stems and dry twigs, bits of bark and cones
  • Glue and packing tape
  • Color for painting (primer white, the rest is a matter of taste).
  • Clear coat for spraying

And so it goes:

  • If the parts are not already cut to size, they are cut to size.
  • Then the white base coat is due. The parts must then dry.
  • Then you can give them a color of your choice. The side parts, for example, in red, the base and back plate in green or blue.
  • You can use very simple wall paint or even school paint.
  • When the paint has dried, the hotel is assembled and glued.
  • First attach the side panels to the base plate, then the rear panel.
  • The glue needs to dry.
  • Then spray the outer surfaces with clear varnish so that the color stays in place even when it rains.
  • When everything is dry, cut the stalks and branches to the right length and layer them in the hotel below.
  • The bark is good for the sides or bottom layers.
  • The cones come at the top.
  • That’s it.

The hotel should get a sheltered place, then the insects will take it better. All you have to do is hammer a nail into the wall of the shed (example) and you can hang the hotel on it. child’s play!

Solid wood hut filled with reeds

You need:

All wooden parts except for the back wall are made of solid wood, 18 mm thick.

  • 1 shelf 114 x 120 mm
  • 2 side walls 170 x 120 mm
  • 1 roof panel 158 x 150 mm and 1 roof panel 140 x 150 mm
  • 1 back panel made of plywood (5mm) 250 x 150 mm
  • Weatherproof color
  • Holzleim
  • Stainless screws (40mm), stainless nails 30mm
  • Jigsaw or circular saw
  • drill, cordless screwdriver
  • Bamboo tubes, reed stalks and a thick branch for the middle are suitable as filling

This is how we do it

  • The side walls must be beveled at the top edge, at a 45° angle. You do that with one of the two saws.
  • Glue the roof panels together at right angles. Press the smaller one against the larger one from below and glue it on. In addition, the two parts should be fixed with stainless screws. It’s best to pre-drill something.
  • Glue the side walls to the outside of the floor and then the roof to the side walls. Put everything together into a frame. Here, too, all connecting surfaces should be fixed with three screws each, always after pre-drilling.
  • The upper part of the back wall is now cut to fit. It must fit the outline exactly.
  • Paint the house and back wall with weatherproof paint.
  • When the paint is dry, the back wall is nailed to the house framework (frame).
  • Cut reed and bamboo tubes to 120 mm length.
  • Also cut the thick branch section to 120mm and drill several holes in it. The holes must be horizontal and must not go through. They must be closed at the back.
  • In the end, the thick branch is placed in the middle of the hotel and the reed and bamboo pieces are placed around it until all the open spaces are filled and nothing more can be pushed in. Then the parts will hold themselves and not fall out.
  • Depending on how the insect hotel is to be attached, you have to attach a hook or drill a hole in the back wall. Nothing else to do.

Insect hotel with several divided sections

For the sake of simplicity, you can use a wooden box for this insect hotel, which is often offered as a storage box for toys or other stuff. So you have already finished the basic body. That makes the work a lot easier.

This is required:

  • 1 wooden box 40 x 30 x 15 cm
  • Glued wood for the individual compartments
  • 1 short bar
  • 1 perforated brick
  • rabbit wire
  • Crucifix
  • bucket
  • Lehmbrei
  • Cordless screwdriver, hand tacker, hammer, jigsaw
  • screws, nails
  • Cones of conifers, pieces of hardwood, reeds, sticks of soft wood (hazel or elder)

That’s how it works:

  • Smooth the sharp-edged holes in the brick with the rasp and fill the openings with loamy pulp
    • After a few hours, poke small holes in the dried clay with a thin stick
  • Place bricks in the box, right against an outside wall but centered
  • Then insert and fasten the first shelf
  • Fill the cavities on both sides of the brick with short reed stalks
  • Fasten the second intermediate shelf at exactly the same distance from the outer wall
    • like the first one, only on the opposite side
  • Three sections are favorable for the middle and largest field
    • Insert two small shelves to create three compartments
  • The basic structure is ready.
  • For the middle field you need a wooden insert, a wooden plate that has a longer opening (one cm wide longitudinal gap) in the middle
    • Opening must be horizontal
    • Fasten the plate to the small shelves
  • This compartment is for butterflies.
  • Now fill the individual compartments with cut wood
    • Poke small holes in pieces of hardwood
    • do not pierce
  • Fill the larger field with cones
    • Wire netting in front of them so they don’t fall out
    • staple to the frame
  • The roof should slope slightly and protrude significantly to provide protection from rain and too much sun
    • to do this, nail a strip to the rear long side
  • drill a hole in the back plate for hanging or attach a hook or two to the back

Important details

The entrance openings in the branches must be of different sizes.

  • Mason bees 3 to 7 mm
  • Hole bees 2 to 5 mm
  • scissor bees 3 to 6 mm
  • Leaf cutting bees 5 to 6 mm
  • Aphid grave wasp 2 to 5 mm
  • Mortar wasps 3 to 6 mm
  • Wall mud wasps 3 to 6mm
  • Mask bees 2 to 4 mm

The right place for an insect hotel

It is important that an insect hotel is well placed, otherwise little or no insects will settle.

  • Sunny, sheltered from the wind and sheltered from the rain
  • Orientation to the south
  • Minimum distance to the floor 50 cm
  • Ladybugs and lacewings like aphids
  • Wild bees and bumblebees love flowering native plants
  • Almost all solitary bees need access to water

When choosing a location, the preferences of the insects must be taken into account.

Building insect hotels is not particularly difficult. Of course there are very unusual and much more complicated than my three here, but these are completely sufficient. You can install lights in the hotel, then more insects will be attracted in the dark. Even so, there are many ingenious details that can be attached. In addition, it is not always necessary to use tenons, pieces of wood and shield stalks. For example, I have an insect hotel that is filled with empty snail shells, among other things. The snail dwellings offer shelter to many insects. Tree discs with many holes in them are also very nice to look at.

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