Now that you’ve been introduced to what a bee hotel is (and, for the crafters among you, how pretty they can be), aren’t you a leetle interested in making your own? There are many, many ways to create a bee hotel, so don’t be afraid to get creative and see what works best! Here are step-by-step instructions on how to make one type.
First, a little background for any of you who missed it: while we think of bees as hive-dwelling creatures, many species are actually solitary nesters who need their own little spot to deposit their larvae (mmmm). And since highly-developed places like cities don’t offer as many good spots for ovipositing, bee hotels are a great way to help these important pollinators along. Sometimes you’ll also see them being used for hibernation, or by butterflies and ladybugs seeking shelter.
■ Untreated wood box or container (so no varnish, stain, paint etc)
■ A drill
■ Bundles of bamboo or dead stems
■ Saw, screws and secateurs (pruning shears)
■ Hook (or way to hang the box up)
1. Make or find the box that will contain the bamboo/dead stems or blocks of wood (suggested size: 20cm deep x 30cm wide x 30cm high). The box should be open on one side, and depending on where you are going to hang it, can be open on the back too. If you’re hanging it against a wall that will provide a back to the box, then you can leave this open too. It is advisable to create a sloping roof so that the rain will roll off and protect the wood and stems inside from becoming wet.
2. Trim the bamboo/dead stems to the same depth as the box. It’s a good idea to include a mix of different widths of stem as different bees will want to use different sizes.
Another option is to drill deep holes 2-10mm wide in to blocks of wood that will fill the box. The open ends of these holes should face outwards, and be smooth of splinters and clean of sawdust (bees have sensitive bodies and will not use messy or abrasive nests).
3. Pack your stems or blocks of wood (or combination) in to the box frame.
4. Attach the hook to the back of the box. For an even simpler way – or if you’re really short of time – just bundle together
with twine or wire, 10-20 cm lengths of hollow plant stems and place them in a sunny place where they will be protected from the rain.
There are also instructions on how to make a bee hotel out of plastic drinks bottle hollow plant tubes (like bamboo).
In full sun, facing south or south east, is best. The box should also be at least three feet off the ground, with no vegetation blocking the entrance. It is important that the bundles of stems, or block of wood are kept dry at all times. You may need to move your bee hotel in the autumn and winter to protect the nesting bees. Move your bee hotel to somewhere dry and cold; do not store in a warm place.
These instructions courtesy of Friends of the Earth.