Why and how to make a DIY Insect Hotel to encourage beneficial insects and bees to visit your backyard.
Almost 3 years ago, our family took a hiking trip through Austria. It was a memorable trip for so many reasons and, as is the case with all of our trips, our family brought home many memories and several ‘ideas’.
We started our multi-day hike by trekking through Sisi Park along the Traun river in Bad Ischl, Austria. It just so happened that while we were there, a garden show was being held in the park and as we were departing the park, I spied this wooden insect house for sale.
I snapped a quick picture with the full intent of building one when we returned back home.
Better late than never…right? Truthfully, this has been up for almost a year…so is a fairly established hotel.
Our wooden insect hotel is placed near the marsh and our garden, with the hopes of it having its ‘no vacancy’ sign up often. I probably need to get a listing on Hotels.com for it.
Why Build an Insect Hotel:
As organic gardeners, we are firm believers and ‘encouragers’ of beneficial insects. We’ve seen firsthand what parasitic wasps can do to those nasty Tomato Horn Worms and how quickly a few ladybugs can decimate a horde of aphids. We welcome any and all bees to our humble garden and put out the welcome sign in the form of Bee Balm, Zinnia, Lavender and Dill.
To that end, we are always looking for more ways to encourage those friendly bugs to make our home their home and this wooden insect house is just another way to induce them.
- The nooks and crannies, leaves, tubes and drilled logs provide shelter year-round, but especially in the winter months, for an assortment of beneficial insects.
- Solitary bees will nest and lay their eggs in the bamboo tubes and the holes drilled in the logs. These pollinators are always welcome.
- Ladybugs and Lacewings will hunker down and nest in the leaves, pinecones and straw and devour any unwanted aphids and mites
- Ground beetles and hoverflies will burrow in the bundles of sticks and twigs. Both of these insects love to feast on aphids, hoverflies also do a good deal of pollinating!
- And while I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I’m a fan of ‘lawn art’…this insect hotel not only is utilitarian but is a piece of lawn art to me.
What We Used to Make A DIY Insect Hotel:
- 10 feet Cedar 1″ X 6″ boards (for the frame and the internal sections)
- 2.5 feet Cedar 1″ X 8″ boards (for the back)
- 1 pressure treated fence post
- 2 feet hardware cloth
- Various pine cones, pine straw, bamboo stakes, sticks, leaves, logs, etc…
(UPDATE: Since building our insect hotel and writing this post, I have read some information that suggests that pine cones and pinestraw may not be good ‘ingredients’ in your insect hotel. It is suggested that you use smooth bamboo sticks and wood with holes drilled instead. )
While a little more expensive, we used cedar for our DIY Insect Hotel because of its weather resistant properties. We didn’t want to use pressure treated wood given the chemicals involved in that process.
How To Make An Insect Hotel:
- It’s a pretty straightforward process, but here’s the drawing we used for our insect hotel:
- After building the frame, with the 1 by 6’s, we lined the back with the 1 by 8’s.
- We put the ‘shelves’ in and then separated the shelves and various angles, for all the different ‘rooms’.
- Then we put on an overhanging roof, which we wrapped with copper.
- Once it was attached to the fence post and ‘planted’ in the yard, it was just a matter of filling it with various items we had lying about.
You can see in the image below that someone is building a nest in the drilled holes of the log.
- The final step was attaching the chicken wire to prevent the material from falling out, as well as preventing any marauding birds from snacking on our guests whilst they are sleeping. Once they leave the safety of the hotel, I guess they are fair game.
I did a lot of research on flowers for bees and I plan to start a Bee Friendly Flower Garden surrounding the hotel this spring, with all sorts of beneficial insect attracting flowers…everyone likes a nicely landscaped hotel…hoping that it further increases our occupancy rate. If you are interested in an insect house, but not sure you want to spend the time to build one, you can buy them on (where else), Amazon.
This wooden insect house is one of the many things we ‘brought’ back from our travels…it will forever remind of us the beginning of our Austrian hike through Sisi garden.
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