Wildlife

The UK’s Best Insect Hotels For Bees, Butterflies, Ladybirds & Other Bugs

wooden insect hotel amongst garden foliage
Written by April Foot

Adding an insect hotel to your outside space is an easy way to encourage desirable insects such as ladybirds, bees and butterflies to visit your garden, or even make it their home.

This is one type of hotel you won’t have seen on Booking.com – insect hotels are small structures (often shaped to look like a house or hotel) made from wood and other materials – and featuring lots of nooks and crevices in which insects can nest and seek shelter.

There can be numerous benefits to encouraging more bugs into your garden. As well as pollinating plants and eating pests such as aphids, bug hotels can support the wider eco-system, and are a great way to get children interested in the garden – after all, what could be more fascinating to a four-year-old than creepy crawlies?

If you’d like to bring more helpful insects into your garden but aren’t sure where to start, read on for our compilation of 5 of the best insect hotels on the market, rated according to size, quality, amount of insect-attracting materials, and value for money.

Last update on 2019-10-17 / Affiliate links / Images / Pricing from Amazon Product Advertising API

You’ll be getting rave reviews on Air Bee-n-Bee in no time!

Best Pick: Woodside Wooden Insect & Bee House

Our best bug hotel is large, well-made and perfect for bees

This Wooden Insect House from Woodside tops our list of the best insect hotels. It feels sturdy and well-made, and is our largest design, measuring in at L 26 x W 11 x H 37cm, so there’s plenty of space for multiple bees and bugs.

It features a wooden construction, with four floors of compartments, and various materials, including woodblocks, pinecones and bamboo. Pinecones will attract ladybirds, and the central raw wood section is great for butterflies.

What really makes this insect house stand out though is the high amount of tubular materials and drilled holes in wood, in comparison to other similar insect hotels. Both these materials make great nesting sites for solitary bees, so this house is particularly good for encouraging pollinators into your garden.

The hotel includes a hanging hook for wall-mounting – although it has to be said that the included screws don’t really seem sufficient to support the weight of this sizable insect house. We’d advise replacing them with your own, stronger screws, or using it as a freestanding hotel.

You may find that some of the edges on the holes are a little rough and need sanding to remove splinters and ensure bees are not put off. We should also point out that this is the priciest design on our list (just!) – but considering it’s also the largest, and you can expect to attract a high amount and variety of bug visitors, we think it’s well worth the money.

Pros

  • High-quality, decorative wooden design.
  • Large size to attract lots of bugs.
  • Bamboo and tubular tunnels are perfect for nesting solitary bees.
  • Includes hanging hook for easy wall mounting.
  • From a reputable brand.

Cons

  • May need some sanding to remove rough edges and splinters.
  • Screws provided are unlikely to support the weight of the hotel.
  • Priciest product on our list.
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Value Pick: Nature’s Market Bee Hotel

This bug hotel is small and offers excellent value – it’s a great starter home

For smaller gardens, this quirky Bee Hotel by Nature’s Market might be just the thing. With a compact, circular design measuring 14 x 16 x 15cm, and featuring a built-in wire handle, it’s perfect for hanging on a thin branch or fence post, and won’t take up too much space, or be too noticeable.

The bamboo tubes make it suited to attracting bees. However, there are not nearly as many tubes in real life as shown in the image online – the product you receive will likely only have 4 or 5 tubes, as opposed to the 12+ shown. It’s a classic case of arriving at your holiday villa, only to find the photographer was very ‘creative’ with their marketing shots!

In addition to this, the actual product has significantly more faux moss on it than is indicated online – it doesn’t look terrible, but you may need to trim it back to ensure your insects have unrestricted access. It has to be said that the overall finish of this product is a little lacking compared to the other designs on this list.

If these issues don’t faze you though, this compact and stylish bee hotel can still make an attractive addition to a smaller garden, or entry into the world of insect hotels – and you won’t be able to beat it for value.

Pros

  • Compact size is perfect for smaller spaces.
  • Built-in wire hanger for mounting.
  • Highly affordable.

Cons

  • Some disparity between the image shown online and the actual product – in reality, item has fewer bamboo tubes.
  • Quality and finish is not the best.
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Navaris Wooden Insect Hotel

A sturdy, multi-material insect hotel, with a weatherproof metal roof

Our next insect hotel is another larger design, from Navaris. This one is more similar to the Woodside model, with a traditional house shape, and lots of compartments filled with natural materials.

It differs in that this one has a metal roof, and fewer pinecones and tubular materials. In place of these are more solid wood pieces and chippings. This means it will not be able to accommodate as many nesting bees, but should appeal to a wider range of insects, such as earwigs and ants – you may view this as a good or bad thing, depending on what insects you want to attract!

The metal roof is a welcome addition in that it provides better weatherproofing and protection from moisture – although be aware that it does pose the possibility of sharp edges, and you should take care around children.

This medium size measures in at 24.5 x 28 x 7.5 cm, but there’s also an XL size available if you want to attract even more guests. The shallow depth might be a concern, as it won’t appeal so much to insects looking for a deep nesting spot, away from predators.

Overall though, this is a great option for attracting a wide range of bugs into your garden, and the protective sheet iron roof ensures it is likely to stand the test of time.

Pros

  • High-quality, sturdy design.
  • Made from a variety of natural materials including bamboo, pinewood and pinecones, to appeal to different insects.
  • Sheet iron roof offers protection from rain and moisture.

Cons

  • The metal roof is a little sharp – take care when handling.
  • Limited amount of tubular materials and pinecones.
  • Shallow depth might discourage some insects.
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Navaris Small Wooden Insect Hotel

This insect hotel offers great quality and design, on a smaller scale

If you’re looking for a smaller bughouse which still has many of the same features of the larger models, try this one from Navaris – it’s the slimmer version of the Wooden Insect Hotel featured above.

Although it’s smaller (this one measures in at 15 x 8 x 20 cm), it still has a selection of materials, including pine cones and bamboo, and the design has been carefully thought out to attract desirable butterflies, bees, ladybirds and lacewings to your garden.

It has a metal roof to protect it from the elements, stop the inner materials getting wet, and prevent your insect guests being washed away (that’s one way to guarantee a bad review!) The house also has a hanging hook to allow you to easily suspend it from a branch, bracket or fence post.

The main ‘issue’ with this design is its size – it has a shallow depth, and not as many spaces for bees or other insects as the larger models. However, it is high-quality and very affordable, which makes it a solid option for smaller spaces.

Pros

  • Made from natural materials and unpainted.
  • Small size is great for patios and small gardens.
  • Metal roof provides moisture protection.
  • Includes hanging hook.

Cons

  • Not as much room for bees.
  • Shallow depth.
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Heritage Fix-On Insect Nest

This green and wood hotel will make an attractive addition to your garden, even before the bees and butterflies move in!

Our final insect hotel is this slim design from Heritage. It’s available in 2 sizes, small and medium, with the medium measuring 26 x 10 x 37.5 cm, and the small 13 x 8 x 26 cm. This is another ideal choice for small spaces, although the depth is again quite shallow.

If you’re looking for an aesthetically-pleasing bug hotel to add colour to your garden, this one could be for you. It features a painted green finish on the roof and some of the internal materials, which contrasts well with the wood for a natural-yet-stylish look.

The bug hotel feels sturdy and well-made, and there are a good amount of tubular materials and holes to house bees, as well as wood chippings to bring in ladybirds and other bugs. There’s also a raw wood area with butterfly-sized entrance holes to attract butterflies.

The design includes a hanging hook for easy mounting to a tree or fence post. It would be a good idea to find a sheltered spot to position this one, as there’s no metal roof to protect it from rain – if you’re concerned about weatherproofing, you could add a protective coating to improve this.

Ultimately, this funky insect hotel offers a stylish and practical design, that is perfectly suited to a modern garden. It should help to attract an array of beneficial insects into your garden, for a very reasonable price.

Pros

  • High-quality, aesthetically pleasing design – a combination of painted green and wood.
  • Lots of bamboo tubes and holes to attract bees.
  • Includes hanging hook.

Cons

  • Shallow depth might discourage some bugs from nesting.
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Where Is The Best Place To Put An Insect Hotel?

The best place to put an insect hotel depends somewhat on the kinds of bugs you are trying to attract. If you want worms, ladybirds and woodlice, you’re best off placing your bug hotel in a cool, shaded spot, out of direct sunlight. Ideally, look for somewhere sheltered that offers insects protection from rain, such as under a tree or hedgerow.

Bees and butterflies, on the other hand, prefer some sun, so a south-facing wall can be the perfect place to hang a bee hotel. It would also a good idea to place your hotel close to any sweet-smelling, nectar-rich flowers growing in your garden, to further attract these pollinators.

If you are disappointed with your insect hotel’s occupancy levels, don’t be afraid to try a different spot in your garden – just make sure to leave it at least a week between relocations, to give bugs a chance to check-in.

How To Build Your Own Bug Hotel

An alternative to purchasing a pre-made bug hotel is to make your own. You don’t need to be an expert at DIY to design and construct an insect hotel capable of attracting butterflies, bees and bugs into your garden.

To make your own bug hotel, you should first collect a range of natural materials, such as bark, moss, fir cones, leaves and straw. You can also use re-cycled household items such as plant pots or cardboard toilet roll tubes.

If you want to attract bees, try to find some bamboo or hollow plant stems that they can nest in. Dead wood and bark will appeal to woodlice, beetles and spiders, whilst ladybirds are particularly fond of dry leaves and sticks for hibernation.

Before you build your bug hotel, choose a flat, stable area, and make a base from bricks. You can then use planks of wood (old pallets work perfectly) to build the structure of your hotel. Between each floor, add a layer of your natural materials.

Once it’s at your desired height, top the hotel with a roof to protect the inner layers from the elements – you could use old tiles, wood, or even a layer of compacted soil. Declare your insect house open and wait for its new residents to move in!

About the author

April Foot

April is a freelance writer who specialises in travel, home and garden design, and the environment. She is an avid wildlife-enthusiast and adventure-seeker, and feels happiest when in the Great Outdoors.

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