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How to make a bee hotel - step by step

bee hotel

When most people think about bees, they think about our social species – the honey bee and the bumble bee. But actually there are over 240 other species of bee in the UK and these are solitary or wild bees. Solitary bees can be split up into two groups depending on where they like to nest. Those that like to nest in the ground and those that like to nest in cavity spaces.

Two solitary bees you’ll often find in the garden are the Red Mason Bee and the Leaf-cutting Bee and they are prolific pollinators. Recent research suggests that they can pollinate up to 120 times more than honey bees – so it’s a great idea to help them thrive!

One way you can help these bees is to put up a ‘bee hotel’ in your garden. These are safe little spaces for them to nest and you can either buy one or create your own. The good news is that it is much easier (and cheaper) than you might think to make a bee hotel and it involves upcycling – so it’s great for the environment in more ways than one!

Spring time is the perfect time to build a bee hotel, because it is when solitary bees are looking for a new home. The little holes are perfect places to live and also to lay their eggs – they are warm, sheltered and safe from predators.

It’s also the Easter holidays coming up, so this would be a fun activity to keep the kids occupied and to teach them about bees and the environment at the same time. Click here for more information on bees.

All you need is an empty plastic bottle or an old plant pot, some bamboo cane and some string – that’s it! This morning, I spent a couple of hours building my own in the back garden and I can’t reiterate how easy it is – even if you’re not great at DIY like me!

My simple step by step guide

What you'll need:

Plastic bottle bee hotel (easy):

  1. 1 x empty plastic bottle or ceramic plant pot
  2. Enough bamboo cane to fill your plastic bottle
  3. Some string
  4. A pair of secateurs 

Plant pot bee hotel (easy/intermediate):

  1. 1 x empty plastic bottle or ceramic plant pot
  2. Enough bamboo cane and logs to fill your pot - you'll want a mixture
  3. Some string 
  4. A pair of secateurs, a saw and a drill

(You can pick up bamboo cane and logs from your local hardware store, B&Q or shops like B&M Bargains)

How to do it:

First, select your container

Up-cycling is great, because you are giving new life to something and it's super cheap too. You can either use an empty plastic bottle or an old plant pot. If you are using a plastic bottle, use the following steps. If you are using a plant pot, skip further down the page. 

PLASTIC BOTTLE BEE HOTEL 

1.  Take the label off your bottle 

2. Use scissors or a knife with a serrated edge to cut off the pouring end. You will end up with a cylinder with a hole on one side. 

bee hotel

3. If there are rough edges, use sandpaper to smooth off. If you are doing this with children, if might be best for an adult to do this part.

bee hotel

4. Measure the length of your bottle

bee hotel

5. Measure and mark the same length on your bamboo canes

 
bee hotel
6. Use a saw or secateurs to cut the cane to size (if you are doing with children, it is best for an adult to do this part)
 
bee hotel
7. Tie the bamboo cane together with string. 
 
bee hotel
8. If any of the canes are blocked up, you can unblock them with something long and thin e.g. a screw. 
 
bee hotel
9. Put the tied up bamboo cane into your plastic water bottle. Then tie some more string around the outside of the bottle so you can hang your new bee hotel!
 
bee hotel
10. You can hang it anywhere you like, but the best place is where it will get some sun and close to flowers. You can get free bee-friendly flower seeds here
 

PLANT POT BEE HOTEL

 
bee hotel
1.  Find or buy a plant pot. I have a few unused ones at the bottom of the garden from last summer. 
 
bee hotel
bee hotel
2. Find wood and bamboo cane to fill your plant pot with. You can get these from your local hardware store, B&Q or shops like B&M and they are relatively cheap. Measure the depth of your pot and cut your logs and cane to the same length with a saw and/or secateurs. 
  
bee hotel
3. Fill your pot with the logs and cane, then drill holes in the logs. Create various size holes - between 2mm and 10mm diameter (pick this size drill bits) as this is the best size for bees to nest in. 
  
bee hotel
4. Arrange the logs and cane so that they fill the pot, put the pot on its side. Instead of propping up the entrance like I have in the photo, have the pot horizontal - this will ensure that it doesn't fill up with water when it rains!
 
bee hotel joe harper
5. You can place your new bee hotel anywhere you like, but the best place is where it will get some sun and close to flowers. You can get free bee-friendly flower seeds here 😁🐝👌

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