You will need
- Pens or pencils
- Coloured pens or pencils
- A4 paper
- Natural materials (for example, leaves, twigs, feathers)
- Clean items of recycling
- Wooden pallets
- Old groundsheet or tiles
Before you begin
- You could start by exploring biodiversity with Web of life and learning about potential guests with Snug as a bug.
- The Woodland Trust’s nature detectives spotter sheets can help you identify bugs. You could use them to figure out what bugs are in your area or find out who’s checked in to your hotel.
- The Seek app from iNaturalist can show you pictures of species local to you. You can use the camera on your device to get an identification – if your bug will stay still long enough that is!
- You'll want lots of different natural materials for your bug hotel. You could use old twigs, old logs and branches, dry leaves, straw or hay, bark, pine cones, bamboo canes, stones and hollow plant stems.
- For your items of recycling, great items to use are egg boxes, toilet rolls tubes, plant pots, tiles, straws and corrugated cardboard.
- You can build your bug hotel at any time of year, but you may find you have more natural materials such as straw, dry leaves, and hollow plant stems in autumn.
Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional coronavirus-related controls to think about may include:
- Set up a hand washing station that you can use throughout the session.
- Make sure people wash their hands before and after using any shared equipment or resources.
- Clean any equipment between different people using it.
- Remind everyone to stay a safe distance apart at all times. It might help to have some people working on the main structure, while others focus on the materials that’ll fill the gaps. If it would work better for you, everyone could create their own small part and someone could put them together to make the final hotel.
Plan your bug hotel
- If people are working towards their Community Impact Staged Activity Badge, everyone should talk about what they’ve learned about biodiversity. What creatures have they discovered? What have they already done to support the environment?
- Everyone should talk about why bug hotels are useful and the role bugs play in our environment. Can anyone think of another benefit of having a bug hotel in the local community?
- Everyone should think about outdoor areas in their local community. Where could a bug hotel go? They should try to think of somewhere nearby so it’ll be easy to check in on their guests.
- Everyone should think about what sort of area they’ll need.
- Someone should get in touch with the landowner to get permission. It might help to share some information about how the bug hotel will help the environment and community.
- Everyone should get creative and draw their ideal bug hotel. What would it look like? What shape would it be? How many floors would it have?
- Everyone should share their design and work together to create a final design for the whole group to use.
- Now it’s time to figure out how to bring the hotel to life. Everyone should think about what they’ll use to build a strong structure for the hotel. Where might they be able to get materials?
- Everyone should think about how they’ll fill their bug hotel. If they want to attract any particular bugs, they could think about the sorts of environments they like in the wild. They should think about what natural materials they’ll need to collect and how they’ll create smaller sections in their hotel.
- Everyone should plan how they’ll keep their bug hotel dry. They could make a roof using tiles, an old groundsheet, or wood.
- Everyone should make a list of tools they’ll need.
Build your bug hotel
This is just one example of how to build a bug hotel.
- Before you start building, you could record the bugs you can find in the area. This means that you’ll be able to track the difference your bug hotel makes.
- Lay some bricks on some flat, even ground to create some sturdy foundations for your bug hotel.
- Now, stack the wooden pallets one on top of the other to make the framework for your bug hotel. Don’t forget to put the biggest pallets at the bottom!
- As you build up the layers, carefully check that your hotel is sturdy and doesn’t wobble. Make some changes if you need to – you could use string or twine to give your structure some extra support.
- Fill in the gaps with different natural and recycled materials to give your visitors all sorts of different and interesting spaces to choose from. Start with the larger objects (for example, tiles, pots, and bricks with holes) and then fill the rest of the space with smaller objects (for example, pine cones, straw, sticks, and bark)
- Once you’re happy that your structure is stable, add a roof to help keep your guests dry.
- Once you’re finished, choose a name for your hotel. You could use some spare wood to make a sign.
Check in on your guests
Return at a later date to see how your hotel and your new guests are getting on. Without disturbing them, see what bugs you can spot and identify.
This activity was about working as a team to create habitats for minibeasts. Think about what it was like spending time outdoors in nature. How did it make you feel? Did you spot any creatures enjoying their new home? Now that you’ve helped bugs in your local area, what other creations can you make to help wildlife? People might suggest making houses for bees or feeders for birds.
- Rubbish and recycling
All items should be clean and suitable for this activity.
- Sharp objects
Teach young people how to use sharp objects safely. Supervise them appropriately throughout. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.
- Animals and insects
Be aware of the risks before interacting with animals. Be aware of anyone with allergies, and make alternative arrangements for them.
- Gardening and nature
Everyone must wash their hands after the activity has finished. Wear gloves if needed. Explain how to safely use equipment and set clear boundaries so everyone knows what’s allowed.
- Heavy and awkward objects
Don’t lift or move heavy or awkward items without help. Break them down into smaller parts if possible.
- Outdoor activities
You must have permission to use the location. Always check the weather forecast and inform parents and carers of any change in venue.
- Hand and electric tools
- Inspect tools for any damage before each use. An adult should supervise people using tools, and people should follow instructions on how to use them correctly and safely. Tools should be properly maintained and kept sharp.
- Use an appropriate surface and make sure materials are stable and supported when you’re working on them. You should cut and drill away from the body and in an area clear of other people.
- Be extra cautious of trailing cables and water when using electric tools; use a cordless tool if one’s available.