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Wild bees ensure the pollination of ornamental and crop plants, lacewings, ladybugs and earwigs hunt pests and are therefore indispensable in the garden. Read which filling material is indispensable for a homemade insect hotel.

In a nutshell

  • provide tubes with different diameters for wild bees
  • ideal: perforated wood or clay, bamboo or reeds
  • for ladybirds, lacewings and earwigs excelsior, straw or dry leaves
  • thin twigs as a retreat for butterflies
  • Important: Use chemically untreated materials

For wild bees and wasps

There are around 550 different wild bee species, which, unlike honey bees, do not live in large colonies. Wild bees are loners and are therefore also referred to as solitary bees. Because they cannot count on the protection of their fellow bees, wild bee species need sheltered nesting sites. Therefore, with the right filling of the insect hotel, offer sufficient nesting opportunities and a richly laid table with many flowering plants - native species with single flowers also prefer here.

Drilled hardwood

A kind of nesting wood for wild bees that can almost be called classic is domestic hardwood, which is cut into thick slices or blocks and drilled into several times. Hard hardwood species like

apple tree
  • Apple,
  • Beech,
  • Oak,
  • ash
  • and hazelnut

are ideal for this purpose, as they do not deform due to external weather influences (e.g. moisture), are very weather-resistant and also do not resin. Resinous types of wood (e.g. all softwoods) are not suitable for this purpose, as the wild bees get stuck in the resin and die.

Vary the diameter of the holes - nesting holes between two and nine millimeters thick are suitable - and do not drill them too close together. You can then stack the wood or integrate it with other materials in an insect hotel.

Tip: To avoid accidentally poisoning the bees, you should only use untreated materials.


While some species of bees prefer to nest in wood, others choose materials such as adobe or clay. You can make an insect hotel with a special filling for these wild bees. Older children can have a lot of fun with this craft.

You need:

  • Grid stones from the hardware store
  • Loam with a high proportion of sand
  • bamboo cane
  • some water

And that's how it works:

  • Deburr lattice stones with a rasp
  • Edges should be as smooth as possible
  • drill two holes on the sides with a masonry drill
  • bend strong wire for later hanging
  • Tuck the ends into the holes
  • Mix clay with a little water to form a viscous paste
  • Fill the lattice holes with mud
  • flatten
  • punch ten centimeter deep holes in the clay
  • using knitting needles or nails
  • Rework holes several times
  • perform a rotary movement
  • put bamboo canes in some holes

Now let the lattice tile dry thoroughly before you attach it as a bee nest aid.

plant stem

Hollow plant stalks, mainly from bamboo and reeds, are also popular fillings for insect hotels. Bundle several pipes of different diameters and store them horizontally. Some bee species also like to drill their own nest holes, often in pithy plant stalks, which is why you cut the stalks of elderberry, blackberry and raspberry, forsythia, thistle, dog rose, lilac or mullein to the required length and place them as vertically as possible.

Notice: Wild bees, which prefer these stalks as a nesting aid, are, as in nature, characterized by vertical stalks and would hardly accept horizontally stacked ones.


A simple but well-received filler is a plain block of clay, such as you can buy at any craft store. In this block, use knitting needles or nails of different diameters to punch holes arranged in rows. You can then place the clay block in a frame made of wood or simply attach and attach strong wire to the left and right.

Tip: Build a roof covered with tar paper for the clay tile, which protects the entrances to the nest tubes from moisture.


Does a rotten tree have to be felled in your garden, maybe even an apple or other fruit tree? Don't throw away the deadwood as it makes an excellent filling for insect hotels. Some bee species - and also other insects - only gnaw the nest tubes in dead wood, which is why you can easily place this in the insect hotel after sawing it into suitable pieces. The wood should be rotten so that the bees can easily dig tunnels in it.

Tip: You can use your thumbnail to test whether deadwood is soft enough for wild bees: simply press into the wood and see if you can make a dent in it with your fingernail.


Old bricks or bricks can also be used as nesting material for wild bees. Thoroughly clean the brick and then use a masonry drill to carefully drill holes - again with different diameters, of course. Make sure you carefully remove any burrs that appear so that the bees do not injure themselves later. You can also make a brick out of clay yourself, let it dry in the sun and use it as filling material for the insect hotel if you provide it with holes.

For ladybugs, lacewings and earwigs

In contrast to wild bees, these extremely useful garden dwellers do not use the provided insect hotel as a nesting aid, but primarily as a safe retreat or as a protected wintering opportunity. Therefore, ladybugs, lacewings and earwigs are less attracted to tubes and more to the following materials. This is a loose filling that must be prevented from falling out behind a wire mesh or similar. Also make sure that the filling material is dry and clean, and it should not smell musty or moldy.

  • wood wool
  • leaves
  • straw

In addition, the insects mentioned also like to cavort in pine or fir cones, which you simply have to pile up loosely as a filling. Ladybugs and other beetle species are primarily attracted to dry leaves, and the spotted six-legged friends also like to eat wood shavings. This, in turn, also attracts lacewings, but only under one condition: In order to settle lacewings, the box should be painted bright red, of course with an ecologically non-toxic paint. Earwigs, on the other hand, usually prefer straw or cones.

Tip: Lacewings and ladybugs in the garden are extremely useful because their larvae eat aphids in large numbers. Earwigs (also known as earwigs in some places) also prey on aphids and other garden pests.

For butterflies

In Germany there are well over 3000 different species of butterflies, many of which are already threatened with extinction. So that you can help the butterflies, you should cultivate butterfly-friendly plants in the garden. Adult butterflies need a safe retreat during the day (moths) or night (butterflies), which they find in an insect hotel filled with thin twigs. Some types like

  • the peacock butterfly,
  • the brimstone butterfly,
  • the C-Folder,
  • the mourning cloak
  • as well as the little and the big fox

even use this offer to spend the winter.

For bugs

There are around 7000 different species of beetle in Germany, which is why this animal order is one of the most species-rich. But many beetles are also threatened and therefore need a natural retreat in the garden. Piles of brushwood and dead wood as well as planted natural stone walls are well suited for this, but compartments in the insect hotel filled with dry bark mulch are also gladly accepted. Again, stretch a wire mesh that is not too tight in front of the filling so that it does not fall out of the insect hotel.

frequently asked Questions

How big should the holes in the materials be?

In many commercially available insect hotels, the tube diameters are too large. Therefore, make sure that the holes have a diameter of between two and a maximum of nine millimeters, with sizes between three and six millimeters being particularly common. The wild bees and wasps that move into these tubes are of different sizes and therefore prefer different sizes depending on the species.

How deep does an insect hotel have to be?

This question is important because birds like to peck the insect brood from the burrows. If these are long enough, the feathered predators can no longer get to the eggs and larvae. Therefore, make sure that the tubes themselves are at least eight centimeters long, while the holes are at least six centimeters long.

Does the insect hotel need a back wall?

Your insect hotel doesn't necessarily need a back wall, as long as the filling material is deep enough that hungry birds cannot peck the insect brood out of the tubes. Strictly speaking, most insects even prefer open entry and exit options on both sides, especially since some species can only move in one direction in the narrow tubes and cannot turn.

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