Do It Yourself: Building An Insect Hotel From Old Pallets

The fact that insects have become increasingly rare in recent years can be confirmed above all by those who have owned a car for several decades. Twenty years ago, the windscreen still had to be cleaned very regularly from flattened flies and co. Today, insect-smeared windscreens are no longer a big issue. This is partly due to factors such as intensive agriculture with its monoculture and chemical sprays. With these instructions, you can build an insect hotel and thus contribute to the protection of insects.


Before we build an insect hotel: Why do we need insects at all?

Many insects, especially those we encourage with an insect hotel, are very valuable for the ecosystem: for example, lacewings, ladybirds, hoverflies and earwigs eat plant pests such as aphids and some species of wasps decimate mosquitoes. In addition, many “hotel visitors” are important pollinators of our flowering plants. Not only honey bees provide pollination, but also numerous species of wild bees and bumblebees are involved in ensuring that we can harvest abundant fruit and vegetables. By the way, wild bees are less dangerous than honey bees because their stings are too weak to penetrate our skin. Unlike the state-building honey bees, wild bees live alone.

Birdlife also benefits from a large insect population, as they are a valuable source of food, especially during the rearing phase of the young.


Building an insect hotel: How can you help insects with this?

Insects need colourful and species-rich flower meadows instead of monotonous uniform greenery. However, more and more natural insect habitats are disappearing, partly because of our urge for order in gardens and cities. The dwellings of insects (old walls, dead wood, hollow paths, dry clay slopes) have become rare in tidy nature. That is why they depend on our help to survive: With this insect hotel, you can offer insects a place to hibernate and build their nests.

Do It Yourself: Building An Insect Hotel From Old Pallets

The best location for the insect hotel: A place in the sun.

The insect hotel needs a sunny place so that the guests get enough warmth. One side of the house should therefore face south in full sun if possible. This is especially important for wild bees. Lacewings, however, prefer a shady side, so their nesting aid (straw) is placed on the east side of the house, for example. It is important that the inhabitants are well protected from rain and wind. Therefore, the house should be roofed or have a rain-protecting roof (roofing felt, tiles).


Insect-friendly garden with plants and the insect hotel

The real threat to the insect world is not primarily the lack of nesting opportunities, but above all the loss of food plants. That is why it makes sense to plant species-rich wildflower meadows and to mow some of them only in autumn. A hedge of native shrubs such as dog rose, blackthorn, hawthorn or hazelnut is also an El Dorado for beneficial insects. Access to water (for example, a pond) increases the attractiveness of the insect hotel. Wild bees like to use a little moist clay to seal the nesting tubes.


Building an insect hotel and reusing old pallets

The construction of the insect house is relatively simple and inexpensive. In the sense of “upcycling”, an extremely large and luxurious hotel can be built from used pallets, which can become a real “eye-catcher” in the nature garden. Used pallets, especially disposable pallets, are offered very cheaply or even free of charge by many companies.

How to build the insect hotel from pallets?

You can build your insect hotel with these steps:

Stack five to six pallets on top of each other.
Make the top pallet rainproof with tiles or roofing felt. Slat it a little so that the rainwater can run off in one direction. This means that you create a slope.
Now you can fill the spaces between the pallets with nesting materials from several sides. You can read more about which materials are suitable below.

Of course, it doesn’t necessarily have to be pallets; similar upcycling is also possible with old fruit or wine crates.


Materials for filling the insect hotel

The individual floors of the DIY insect hotel should be filled with a wide variety of materials to meet the individual needs of the insects. Because not only wild bees and bumblebees want to book a room, but also lacewings, earwigs, hoverflies, ladybirds and ground beetles are interested in accommodation.

Building an insect hotel with hollow bricks/lattice bricks

The holes in the hollow bricks will only be accepted if they are properly filled. Use reed stalks and hollow plant stems for this purpose. Also fill some of the holes with clay plaster. Before it hardens completely, drill a few holes with a knitting needle. These flats are readily accepted by various mason bees and clay wasps. Mason bees are solitary bees, of which there are about 50 species in our country.


Building an insect hotel with reed stalks or bamboo cane

Stalks and pithy plant stems (such as elder and mullein) are bundled, tied together with florist’s wire and fixed in flower pots or tin cans so that they cannot be pulled out by birds. The diameter should be chosen so that the bundle fits into the spaces between the pallets. The depth of the holes in the culms should be eight to ten centimetres. Therefore, any hardening in the stem (culm nodes) of the bamboo may have to be drilled through. Also make sure that the stalks have a clean cut edge, because the wild bees’ wings can be damaged by the fibres. The spaces between rolled up corrugated cardboard are also readily accepted. Many species of wild bees and digger wasps look for suitable nesting sites in such bundles.


Building an insect hotel with dried tree slices and wood

Drill holes with different thicknesses (two to ten millimetres) so that different insects can make themselves comfortable. Drill as deep as the length of the drill is sufficient, but at least six to ten centimetres. Make sure that wood fibres do not prevent the bees from slipping in! Logs with bean holes in the end grain are not as optimal as woods where the holes are drilled across the grain. In addition, hardwoods are more suitable than softwoods. Of the almost 600 species of wild bees in Europe, many are happy about the prefabricated boreholes, for example masked bees, hole bees, mason bees, but also solitary wasps.

Building an insect hotel with loam plaster or clay

You can also fill tins or flower pots with the material from the building or handicraft shop and make holes of different sizes (three to six millimetres) before they harden. Use knitting needles or nails of different sizes for this purpose. A whole range of wild bee species and solitary wasps find such cavities very attractive for laying their eggs.


Building an insect hotel with straw or wool

These are readily accepted by lacewings. Since they are attracted to reddish colours, clay pots stuffed with them are suitable. But ladybirds, earwigs and other beetles also like to seek out such places.


Building an insect hotel with pine and spruce cones

Press them into containers or wedge them between pallets. Such cones are readily accepted by ladybirds and earwigs as shelter.
Build an insect hotel with thin branches, brushwood, pieces of bark and hay.

All this is suitable as filling material to fix other nesting aids (such as brood tubes) in the pallet. Empty snail shells are also suitable as filling material and are readily accepted by wild bees.


Building an insect hotel with rotten wood

This is particularly attractive for the leafcutter bee and the wood bee. Stone bees, wasps and various wood beetles also use dead wood and rotting wood.

Once the hotel rooms are furnished, they just have to wait for the guests. I hope you have fun building your insect hotel.

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